Kondampalli Mastan Vali, 35 and semi-literate, started off as a driver 15 years ago delivering lemons to Chittoor and Nellore. During this, he met people involved in red sanders smuggling. “Smugglers from Chennai and other places outsourced the work to Vali, a local. Later, he started his own gang,’’ an official said. As most cases against him did not stick due to lack of evidence, police booked him under Preventive Detention Act and he spent six months in jail.
After release, he moved to Hyderabad and produced a film. In 2014, he joined YSR Congress and was elected Mandal president of Chagalamarri. A while later, police then found an abandoned vehicle with red sanders logs and traced the driver who spilled the beans on Vali.