The Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) suspects the involvement of Maoists in the smuggling of red sandalwood to China and Dubai.
The Delhi zone of DRI had arrested three persons-AT Maideen, NC Chellathambi and C Sekar- in connection with the seizure of 120 tonnes of red sandalwood a few days ago.
"We are looking for people who have been supplying red sandalwood to smugglers . We suspect that the suppliers have links with Maoists," said a source. Red sandalwood is a prohibited item for export and it is covered under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) list.
Sources said Chellathambi and Sekar had told investigators that they have smuggled out around 120 tonnes of red sandalwood in the past too. Maideen, the alleged kingpin, has told investigators that he has a contact in Dubai who would arrange clearance for red sandalwood through export firms with the help a India-based associate. For the services rendered, he used to get payment through hawala in Chennai.
The sandalwood was sourced from Andhra Pradesh.
According to sources, the accused wanted to send the consignment first to Dubai and then to China.