Five men were caught red-handed in the sale and purchase of three rare and expensive elephant pearls yesterday.
Those who were trying to sell the pearl have been identified as Sandeep Mehta (48) and Lalit Desai (40) who are residents of Gujarat. They had fixed a meeting with the three others arrested – Raj Dwivedi, Mohammed Shaikh and Kamlesh Visav at their residence in Manish Tower, Oshiwara.
Policemen revealed that they had received information that a deal was in the process of being struck for an elephant pearl in the apartment. They raided the premises, and found three elephant pearls in the possession of Mehta and Desai, which they were about to sell for Rs 2 lakh.
Mehta had told the buyers that the pearls, which are actually worth crores, had been with them for the past four years.
“Probably the two needed money, and so were ready to sell the pearls cheap,” said an official from Oshiwara police station.
The duo was unable to provide any documents relating to the elephant pearls, which are extremely rare and are usually royal heirlooms that have been passed down many generations.
“These pearls were being sold illegally. We have arrested the duo for possessing rare stones which are irregular growths found in the heads and sockets of the tusks of some elephants,” said Police Sub Inspector Vijayanand Patil.
The police are now investigating the case to trace the pearls to their source. “We will contact the forest officials and take their opinion to find out whether these pearls were smuggled, and their value,” added Patil.
Investigations will also be conducted to determine if the illegal sale of elephant pearls is rampant in Munbai.