NAGAPATTINAM: Coastal Security Group (CSO) on Saturday busted a racket involving the storage and smuggling of 2,410 kg of sea cucumbers (Kadal Attai) valued at Rs 1 crore. The smugglers were planning to sell the sea cucumbers to international customers from Nagapattinam.
A CSG team busted the racket near Nagapattinam in a late night operation on Saturday. The sea cucumbers were preserved in cold storage and being loaded onto vehicles. Marine police arrested two persons allegedly involved in smuggling, “The primary suspect, T Murugandham, had been collecting sea cucumbers from fishermen, who unintentionally or intentionally catch them along with other fish. He had collected 4 to 5 kg from each of his suppliers and had slowly accumulated more than 2,410 kg over a period of eight months. They were planning to take the sea cumbers to Tuticorin to be shipped foreign countries where there is heavy demand,” P Raja, a Marine police investigating officer told Express.
According to police, they received information about smuggling activity taking place from a shed near Akkaraipettai. A team led by Raja responded and caught the two persons loading the cold preserved echinoderms onto their vehicles to be taken to Tuticorin. The arrested include the mastermind, Muruganandham (47) and a vehicle driver named N Rajukumar (32) from Nagapattinam. The police seized at least 61 sacks of sea cucumbers. They were charged under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. There is a ban on catching Sea cucumbers. However, they are smuggled to countries like China, Thailand, Korea and Japan.
The seized sea cucumbers were handed over to Forest department officials in Nagapattinam. It is learnt that the sea cucumbers would be destroyed after seeking permission from a magistrate. Investigations are is underway to find links of the smuggling suspects. SP, CSG, Dr R Chinnasamy from Chennai also arrived in Nagapattinam to join the investigation. He said stringent action would be taken against smuggling and engaging in the illegal trade of sea cucumbers.