The property cell of Mumbai crime branch seized a 100 -year-old elephant tooth worth Rs 2 crore from a lodge in Grant Road on Wednesday, arresting four persons who had come to sell it in the city.
The accused include a share market broker and an imitation jewellery businessman, officials said, adding that they had been scouting for a buyer for many days.
The officials received a tip off from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau about the antique tooth being brought to Mumbai.
After the accused Hitesh Joshi, Pravin Soni, Rajesh Dave and Dharam Gupta were tracked down to a lodge in Khetwadi area, a team of policemen posed as interested buyers to catch them.
“We posed as decoys interested to buy the elephant tooth. They said that it was at least 10 decades old tooth and that heavy antique work was done on it. The older the tooth the higher is the glaze and it turns brownish. The deal was struck at Rs 6 crore, soon after which other team members entered the room and raided it,” said a crime branch officer.
Investigations revealed that failing to get a potential buyer, they had kept possession of the tooth for at least 20 days. The police also suspect that the group might have been involved in illegal dealings before.
The tooth will now undergo a process of authentication in a bid to ascertain its actual age and to find its place of origination with the help of its peculiarities.
Officials said that the accused have named a person from whom they had allegedly procured the smuggled tooth, however, his whereabouts are yet to be traced.
A case under sections of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, with charges of prohibition of hunting, restriction on transportation of wildlife and dealing in animal articles without license, has been registered against the four accused at the DB Marg police station.