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Indian police nail down wood smugglers, seize Red Sanders worth Rs 36 cror

Indian police nail down wood smugglers, seize Red Sanders worth Rs 36 cror

BANGALORE: The Bangalore police have nabbed six smugglers and seized rare Red Sander wood worth Rs 36.41 crore in the international market, here the other day. A total of 12,138 kg of Red Sander wood worth Rs 36.41 crore in the international market and Rs 9.71 crore in the domestic market has been seized following the arrest, Bangalore police commissioner M N Reddi told the Customs Today.

Reddi said the Red Sander tree, a very rare species found in some parts of Andhra Pradesh, is in huge demand in countries like China and Japan on account of its usage for medicinal purposes, for making musical instruments, expensive furniture, decorative ornaments and miniature wood craft.

Acting on a tip off the Central Crime Branch (CCB) police conducted raids at four places on the outskirts of Bangalore including the Kengeri Checkpost, Katiigenahalli near Hoskote, Kodigehalli village near T Narasipura and Jalahalli cross and seized the huge quantity of Red Sanders, the police commissioner said.

“Totally 21 persons from two gangs were involved in the smuggling. They used to smuggle Red Sanders from Andhra Pradesh to Chennai, Mangalore and Mumbai via Bengaluru and later they smuggle them to China and Japan,” Reddi said.

They cut Red Sanders into many pieces at Mumbai, Mangalore and Chennai and later put them into many boxes to smuggle through couriers. They also smuggled it as furniture to other countries.

The police are yet to nab 15 absconding accused persons in the case. The investigation has revealed that main accused hails from China.

“One person who came from China is the main accused in the case. We had information that he came to India for his smuggling business. We know his local contacts and through them we will try to nab him,” joint commissioner of police (crime) Hemanth Nimbalkar said.

Police said that they collected information that two gangs are operating in and around Bengaluru with one gang being led by Abdul Rehaman resident of Shira in Tumkur district and another gang led by persons residing in Mangalore and Kattigenhalli village of Hosakote Taluk. These gangs purchase Red Sander from local gangs of Chittur, Tirupati and Karnool district of Andhra Pradesh at Rs.2,000 per kg and transport it to safe godowns in rural areas.

Accused Rehaman alias Abdul Rehaman who owns the “Shivaraj Beedi Company” transports Red Sander from T. Narasipura to other places by covering it with beedi gunny bags. They sell the Red Sander to other local gangs for Rs 8,000 per kg. These local gangs in turn transport and sell them to international smugglers at Rs 30,000 per kg in Mumbai, Mangalore, Delhi and Chennai. These gangs will smuggle the goods to China and Japan at exorbitant international prices. Two separate cases were registered at Kengeri and Peenya police station in Bangalore about the Red Sanders smuggling under the provision of various sections of the Karnataka Forest Act and IPC.