KOCHI: It seems like people will try anything to get prosperous, and after online and multi-level money chain frauds, tricksters have found a way to cheat the gullible by selling them endangered animals with tempting promises of the luck and money it will bring.
The arrest the other day of a three-member gang headed by Abdul Kalam Azad, 40, of Veliyathunadu, Aluva, with Black Sand Boas, locally called 'iruthala moori', has revealed this kind of fraud is rampant in the city.
According to the police, Azad has links with a mafia network operating similar scams across the country.
They offer barn owls (vellimoonga) and 'rice pullers' as lucky totems.
"Azad came into acquaintance with the racket while running a buffalo trade in Andhra Pradesh. He confessed he bought the snakes from these people for Rs 3 lakh," said Dhanik Lal, Kodanad range forest officer. Two accomplices of Azad were also arrested. They were identified as Rajesh Menon, 33, of Kadavantra, and Kishore, 36, a native of Kidangoor, Kottayam. The police said the racket created an artificial demand for these snakes citing its good luck prospects.
"They created a wrong perception that sacrificing these species at the stone-laying ceremony of big projects will bring prosperity and wealth."Hence, there is an upswing in the demand for these animals in the international market," said an officer. The City shadow police personnel arrested the gang on Monday.
The 6 kg Black Sand Boas, valued at `20 crore in the international market, were recovered from the vehicle they were travelling in.
Later, the accused were handed over to the Forest Department for further inquiries. According to the officers, the Black Sand Boa, an endangered species, is included in Schedule 4 of the Wild Life Protection Act.They are widely used to perform black magic, and was sought after in the smuggling marketing in China, Malaysia and Singapore.
The shadow personnel approached the gang in the guise of customers and made a deal of `10 crore after several negotiations.The officers also paid a 'token advance' after meeting them at a luxury hotel they were staying in in the city.