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Kingpin of India’s illegal turtle trade market arrested

Manivannan Murugesan was wanted by STF, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Uttar Pradesh STF and Interpol for a long time.

bhopal Updated: Feb 05, 2018 22:40 IST
Neeraj Santoshi
Neeraj Santoshi
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Turtle,Smuggler,Arrest
STF recovered turtles from the arrested smugglers.(HT PHOTO)

An international smuggler of rare species of turtles has been arrested by the Madhya Pradesh forest department’s special task force (STF), the force’s officials said.

A four-member STF team led by Ritesh Sirothia, STF (wildlife crime) in-charge, arrested Manivannan Murugesan from Chennai, brought him to Madhya Pradesh via a flight on Thursday and presented him before the special court at Sagar in the afternoon.

The court sent Murugesan to a five-day STF remand, the force’s officials said.

Sirothia said Murugesan was wanted by STF, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Uttar Pradesh STF and Interpol for a long time. He was ranked third internationally in the illegal trade of rare species of turtles and was considered the kingpin of India’s illegal turtle trade market.

Murugesan’s name had surfaced first during the interrogation of Ajay Singh whom STF had arrested from Agra in June last year for smuggling Red Crown Roofed Turtle, the officer said.

Singh revealed the trafficking network of turtle smugglers across India. Smugglers took the rare turtles out of the country to Hong Kong and Singapore through two routes — via Chennai–Sri Lanka and Kolkata–Bangladesh.

Murugesan’s name surfaced again during the interrogation of wildlife smuggler Mohammad Irfan who was arrested by the STF in Kolkata few days back, Sirothia said.

Murugesan was a Singapore-based businessman and had illegal trade links in Thailand, Malaysia, Macau, Hong Kong, China and Madagascar, besides Singapore.

“His arrest will prove to be very significant in busting the international wildlife smuggling network,” he said.

A smuggler, Thameem Ansari was arrested in October last year from Chennai. Apart from him, the arrest of over ten poachers and traffickers led the STF to a bigger turtle trafficking network across the country .

Turtle Smugglers in the net
  • March 2017: Azad Singh, resident of Morena, arrested for turtle trafficking
  • May 2017: Nand Lal Mongiya, from Sheopur district, arrested for turtle poaching
  • June 2017: Ajay Singh arrested from Agra for turtle trafficking
  • June 2017: Sampatiya Batham, employee of irrigation department and resident of Sheopur, arrested in turtle poaching
  • June 2017: Vijay Gaud, resident of Gwalior, arrested for turtle trafficking
  • June 2017: Kamal Batham, resident of Sheopur, arrested for turtle poaching
  • August 2017: Ram Singh alias Bhola, UP resident, arrested for turtle trafficking
  • August 2017: Mohammad Iqrar, UP resident, arrested for turtle trafficking
  • September 2017: Kailash, resident of Morena, arrested for turtle trafficking
  • October 2017: Thameem Ansari, resident of Chennai, arrested for turtle trafficking

First Published: Feb 02, 2018 15:55 IST