Famous Telugu film director Puri Jagannath appeared in front of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money-laundering probe related to a four-year-old drug case.
Jagannath along with his chartered accountant appeared before the ED officials after being summoned in connection with the investigation.
The ED had last week issued notices to 10 people linked to Tollywood and two others, including a private club manager, as part of its probe.
Apart from Jagannadh, actresses Rakul Preet Singh, Rana Daggubati, Ravi Teja, Charmi Kaur, Navdeep, Mumaith Khan have been asked to appear before the ED between August 31 and September 22.
Those who have been summoned include Tanish, Nandu, actor Ravi Teja’s driver Srinivas.
The inquiry is likely to reveal new facts about the racket, which was busted in 2017 with the arrest of drug smugglers.
Before initiating questioning of Tollywood celebrities, the ED collected details of the investigation conducted by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Telangana’s Prohibition and Excise Department.
The interrogation by the ED has again drawn attention to the case, which was in abeyance and was even presumed dead by many due to the clean chit given by the SIT to the film personalities.
The racket was busted on July 2, 2017, when customs officials arrested musician Calvin Mascarenhas and two others and seized drugs worth Rs 30 lakh from them.
He had reportedly told investigators that he was supplying drugs to film personalities, software engineers and even students of some corporate schools. Mobile numbers of some Tollywood celebrities were reportedly found in their contact list.
The Excise Department had constituted an SIT for a comprehensive investigation.
A total of 12 cases were registered, and 30 people were arrested, while 62 people, including 11 linked to Tollywood, were investigated by the SIT under Section 67 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The SIT had collected blood, hair, nails and other samples from some people who had come before it for questioning and sent them for analysis.
It filed charge sheets in eight of the 12 cases. However, the team gave a clean chit to the film personalities who were questioned as part of the investigation.
The accused against whom cases have been registered include Rafael Alex Victor, a South African national and Puttkar Ranson Joseph, who worked as a manager in the film industry.
Joseph was the manager of lead actor Kajal Aggarwal who sacked him after his arrest.
The officers had recovered 3,000 units of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), 105 grams of MDMA (commonly known as Ecstasy), 45 grams of cocaine and other narcotic and psychotropic substances from the accused.