Five truckloads of red sandalwood found abandoned in Chotila town in Surendranagar district point to a well-established smuggling racket that runs from South India to Dubai via Kandla port in Gujarat,passing off sandalwood as ceramic.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in Gujarat is now on the trail of the trader who booked the five trucks to dispatch them from Gujarat ports.
Red sandalwood worth over Rs 15 crore has been seized since March 15 while they were being transported in eight containers meant for shipment from Kandla port in Gandhidham to Dubai. The company involved was Arihant Ceramics,a Than-based unit in Surendranagar district.
Three containers worth Rs 1.5 crore were seized on March 15. Of the five containers that were shipped to Dubai ,three were recalled,which arrived back at Kandla on Wednesday. Two of them have been seized by Dubai Port Authority.
Forest officials have verified the seized material as red sandalwood.
Meanwhile,the DRI officials said a team has been rushed to Chotila from Gandhidham following tip-off that five trucks have been lying abandoned near two different hotels. These trucks have been allegedly used for red sandalwood transportation.
The hotel owners informed us that those trucks have been abandoned there since March 15,when three containers were seized at Kandla port, said a DRI official requesting anonymity.
Preliminary investigation revealed trucks booked in names of Arihant Ceramics. However,its owner maintains that one Vishal had booked entire ceramic consignment on his behalf and that he was not aware about red sandalwood consignment,say officials.
Red sandalwood is believed to be brought from South Indian states to Gujarat by road for smuggling it to Dubai.