Mumbai police have arrested two persons in connection with red sanders smuggling and seized 500 kg of the timber worth Rs 2.5 crore. With the arrest, police claimed to have busted an international red sanders smuggling racket.
The accused, Ajaz Sayyed (31) and Sufiyan Shaikh (19), both residents of Dongri area in south Mumbai, were intercepted by the Amboli police near Ashani Shamnagar ground on Veera Desai Road Thursday during a search operation.
The two men were transporting 500 kg of red sanders in a mini-truck allegedly without licence and taken into custody for questioning. According to the police, the timber was found wrapped in nine plastic bags in the vehicle, which was seized later. The driver of the mini-truck was, however, let off by police.
“During the enquiry, Sayyed and Shaikh revealed that the red sanders were to be delivered to someone in Dubai and they were just tasked to sent the timber via air cargo. We are now trying to ascertain the recipient’s identity,” a police office said. Red sandalwood is endemic to some parts of the eastern ghats in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and is listed in the Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
However, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), an agency of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, on February 18, 2019, revised its export policy to permit red sander export if it is obtained from cultivated land. Earlier, only red sander seized from illegal traders could be exported.
The police have booked the two accused under Sections 379 (theft) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC along with several sections of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. They were produced in court on Friday.
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