MUMBAI: Mumbai Crime Branch has arrested two smugglers in connection with the Red Sanders bust here the other day. One of the accused is the owner of one of the vessels while the other is part of the smuggling ring and has been described as a “coordinator” by the police.
The duo, identified as Ayub Noora and Yasin Shaikh, have been remanded to police custody till December 29.
While Noora “coordinated” the racket and the logistics involved in smuggling, Shaikh owned the barge, M.V. Ganga Sagar, which had set sail from Sewri carrying 23 tonnes of the sandalwood, later meeting up with the dhow, Al Marwan 10, to transfer the contraband to the latter vessel.
“The main thrust of our investigation is to find out the source of the Red Sanders and understand how deep the racket has spread,” said DCP (Detection) Dhananjay Kulkarni.
The wood and boats have been handed over to the state forests department which will take a decision on their disposal, “The two boats will be auctioned by the forests department,” said Mr Kulkarni.
The seizure, valued at Rs 9 crore, was the first in the past several years where a Red Sanders smuggling attempt was busted along the Mumbai coast.
The contraband, bound for Dubai, was intercepted earlier this month at night by Indian Coast Guard vessels when the wood was being transferred to Marwan. The dhow had set sail from Veraval port in Gujarat and had a rendezvous with Ganga Sagar off the coast of Mumbai.