Red sanders continues to be much sought-after by smugglers, with the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and Customs seizing 37,000 kg of the precious wood, worth Rs 3.7 crore, in two recent cases.
Last month, the DRI had seized 2.45 lakh kg red sanders, and arrested a gang of five, operated by Ajit Satam and Deepak Zare. All of them are presently on bail.
On October 14, the DRI seized a container with 26,000 kg red sanders. The container had been placed in a ship, which had set sail for Dubai. The DRI recalled the container from mid-sea. Officials said the consignment had been sent by Satam and Zare’s gang, before arrest.
While probing the gang members, police found that a consignment of red sanders, which had been declared to be ‘mango pulp’ was sent to Dubai in the guise of an export. “After recalling the consignment, we saw that the container had red sanders in it,” said a DRI official, requesting anonymity.
To avoid checking at the Nhava Sheva port, the gang members had shown the container to be factory stuffed, under the supervision of Central Excise officials. A duplicate seal of the Excise department was also put on the container.
On October 13, Nhava Sheva Customs seized 11,000 kg red sanders at the port. The consignment, declared to be steel utensils, was cleared and was about to be placed on a ship to Dubai. “20% of the container was packed with steel utensils, to avoid suspicion,” said a Customs official. Before the container could set sail, the Customs got a tip-off found the red sanders.
“It is not possible to check containers arriving at the port entirely, because of heavy traffic. We can only check 5% to 10% of a container,” the official said.