DRI busts animal smuggling racket, rescues 1,000 turtles

DRI busts animal smuggling racket, rescues 1,000 turtles

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has claimed to have busted an animal smuggling racket and rescued 1,012 exotic turtles and tortoises, whose notional value was put at Rs 4 crore in the international market.

The DRI sleuths arrested one person and are searching for his associate in Chennai. The sleuths refused to divulge details of the arrested.

“He had tightly packed animals in seven travel bags and had kept the bags in two car bound for Chennai from Bengaluru,’’ said a senior officer. On definite leads, DRI staff intercepted the car at Attibelle toll gate and arrested the man.

There were 76 Tricarinate hill turtles, 852 red eared sliders, 11 Indian star tortoises and 46 female melanochelys tricarinate turtles and 27 Indian tent turtles, the official stated.

Exotic turtles and tortoises fall under endangered species category and their illegal capture and transport attract a minimum prison term of seven years under Customs Act and Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

The suspect told DRI sleuths that he operated through his associates in Bengaluru since 2016. They would procure animals captured from forest areas in Telengana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, through their agnets. Later, they would transport animals to Chennai by road. They would send them by cargo flight to China.

Turtles will be treated at veterinary care centre for a few days and later released into the wild or rehabilitated in any government animal centre, the official added.

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