The red sanders were seized from three different locations in Mumbai

He may be no Raees, but Mohammed Umar is too not far behind. In its second biggest crackdown on the smuggling of red sanders in six months, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized about 12,074 kg of the wood worth nearly R5 crore from three locations — Nhava Sheva Port, a godown in Kopar Khairane and the city's air cargo. And, it netted mastermind Mohammed Umar, a 25-year-old BAMS graduate and ayurveda doctor from Dongri.

Tip-off led to action
Acting on specific intelligence, the DRI recently intercepted cargo at the Nhava Sheva Port and seized 3,250 kg of red sanders concealed in 26 jumbo bags of iron bauxite. “The consignment was meant to be exported to Hong Kong and Dubai and was so cleverly concealed that had we not had specific input, they would have escaped,” said a senior DRI official.

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Questioning of suspects led the team to a godown in Kopar Khairane from where an additional 8,720 kg of the wood was seized. Five suspects were detained, which led to further spillage of information, taking the DRI to the air cargo consignment three days later. Here, they not only seized 204 kg of red sanders, but also 101.5 kg of sandalwood. “Investigations revealed that the three consignments,” said an officer, “belonged to the same group of smugglers and the racket was being run by a Dongri-based man, later identified as Umar. He was held from his Dongri residence as he was about to flee.” Two other members involved in the racket have also been booked under relevant sections of Customs Act.

Mohammed Umar is a key operative of the red sanders smuggling racketMohammed Umar is a key operative of the red sanders smuggling racket

Turned Rs 2-cr profit
A DRI senior official said that Umar had confessed to links with red sanders mafia in two coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh from where he procured his consignments with help from law enforcers.

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“They mainly smuggled to Eastern countries like China. This particular consignment was meant to be exported to Hong Kong and Dubai,” a DRI official said, adding, “Our probe has revealed that Umar has smuggled goods abroad at least five times in the past year.

Umar claims he made R2crore within a year from the smuggling, but we aren't buying that; he has surely made more than that.”