CHENNAI: In a massive haul, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has seized 36 tonne of Red Sander woods as its team conducted a surprise check of a container being loaded in a United Arab Emirates (UAE)-bound ship at the Chennai port.
Following the tip off from the seizure in the port, another team rushed to a godown at Vanagaram in the city’s outskirts and found more Red Sander woods ready to be loaded in a container. And surprisingly, the team found lot of artifacts and antiques like stone idols of goddess also seized from the godown, according to a release.
According to DRI officials, they received specific inputs in the first week of July about smuggling of red sanders to Middle east and south east asian countries through the Chennai Port. "The final destination ultimately is China, which has the largest international market for the endangered species," the release said.
The container meant for export alone contained 652 logs of Red Sanders, value of which is estimated to be around Rs.8.36 crore. The godown spread across more than half acre, few meters away from the Apollo hospitals on the Vanagaram-Ambattur road is the prepping ground for substitution of the red sanders with genuine export goods.
"The goods declared for export in the customs document, sewage cover with frames were also seized apart from the tools used by the smugglers," the release added.
It was also found out that the gang was also involved in the illegal trade of antiques, artifacts and handicrafts. Unique among them is a walking stick made of Snake bones.
Antique stone idols of Lord Mahavishnu, Lord Dhakshinamoorthy, Ivory statues of Various Indians gods and goddesses, artifacts and handicrafts were seized. The total value of recovered goods is more than Rs 16 crore. According to the release, a detailed examination of the seized antique items would be carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and wildlife authorities.
A number of persons involved in the entire smuggling operation are being questioned about their individual role. No arrests have been made so far.