A Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) team on Wednesday recovered around 17 kg of elephant tusk from a container truck it intercepted on the outskirts of Siliguri.
The ivory — four pieces of tusk valued at Rs 1.69 crore in the international market — was hidden underneath a consignment of black tea packed in the vehicle, which had come from Guwahati and was bound for Kolkata. It was seized at Ghoshpukur after the DRI got a tip-off.
The driver of the truck, Subodh Das (43), was arrested later in the day. DRI sources said that during questioning, he revealed that the tusks were handed over to him at Baihata Chariali, a town in Assam.
“Preliminary investigation has revealed that the tusks were extracted from poached elephants in the forests of Assam and were being taken to Kolkata to be exported to South East Asian countries via Bangladesh. Poachers usually target illegal markets in China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam,” said an official.
“A strong nexus has formed between wildlife smugglers of neighbouring countries and India,” the official added.
The DRI is probing the involvement of more people in this racket.