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15 tonnes of red sandal wood seized

The sleuths of the Central Excise and Customs busted a red sandalwood smuggling racket by raiding three trucks loaded with red sanders that weighed about 15 tonnes, which could be worth Rs 3.7 crore on Friday.


From the woods: The consignment was being smuggled from the forests of Chittor in Andhra Pradesh

Officials from the customs department received a tip-off that three trucks full of red sanders, which was top be illegally shipped to the Middle East were parked near Hotel Gurudev on old Pune-Mumbai highway near Kanhe Phata. Officials from the customs said that the drivers of these trucks were staying in the same hotel in two rooms that were booked for them.

This is the second biggest seize this year, after Chakan police earlier got hold of large quantity of red sanders from a godown in Khed Taluka few months ago and managed to nab 12 people including Jitendra Khatarmal, the kingpin in the racket and custom clearing agent, Deepak Jare.

The consignment was being smuggled from the forests of Chittor in Andhra Pradesh and was to be sent to some counties in the Middle East via JNPT in Navi Mumbai under the guise of fruits. Officials have arrested eight people including recipient Fahim Waghoo and Suresh Swami who escorted the entire haul to Pune from Chittor.

“On the basis of tip-off, the team members from the prevention branch of the Pune Customs laid a trap and kept the surveillance near Hotel Gurudev and nabbed the drivers along with Fahim and Waghoo and also seized the two trucks,” said Mohan Goswami, the superintendent, Customs, Pune. 

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