Smugglers forge an international treaty document to smuggle red sanders to countries such as Malaysia, China and Singapore with Dubai being the transit point, say the findings of Mumbai customs authorities.
They found that in Malaysia, China and Singapore, receivers display a forged treaty document called a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) permit to show that red sanders is officially exported. The CITES is a treaty between the member countries aimed at protecting species at risk from international trade. These species can be traded only with the CITES document.
In India, red sanders is a protected species under the Wildlife (Protection) Act.
“From Mumbai, they smuggle red sanders to Dubai by declaring it as a genuine export item,” a senior customs official said. Again in Dubai, documents of the misdeclared item are given and it is further sent to the destination.
“On reaching the destination, the forged CITES permit is shown and the consignment is cleared as red sanders itself,” he added.
The authorities found this when they contacted a Malaysia-based red sanders dealer, who told them he procured red sanders on the basis of CITES permit. The goods reached him via Dubai from Mumbai.
The official said the smugglers do not use the forged permit in India, as it is easy to confirm its authenticity.
A few days back, customs officials had found around 23,000 kg red sanders worth Rs2 crore that was declared as Indian vegetable in a refrigerated container, that was to go to Dubai. Officials suspect the same was also destined for Malaysia and would have sought the help of forged CITES permit.
Officials said that they hardly manage to arrest the top rung of red sanders smuggling syndicate, as hired people who hardly know anything about the syndicate members do the documentation work.
Also, by the time officials find the red sanders during screening or by information, these people vanish.
“The addresses in the documents are never correct,” said the official.