Mumbai crime branch arrests four with ₹1.87-crore red sandalwood
Unit 5 of Mumbai Police’s crime branch busted an international red sandalwood smuggling racket on Saturday night and arrested four persons with 1,779 kgs of red sandalwood worth ₹1.78 crore. A crime branch officer said the red sandalwood was brought from Karnataka by road and the accused were supposed to smuggle it abroad.
The arrested accused are Prasad Khamkar, 33; Manish Patyani, 35; Nishant Malhotra, 42; and Harendra Tiwari, 48 —all residents of Mumbai. Police officers have been questioning them to find out more facts that how long the accused have been involved in the smuggling racket.
The officer said they acted on a tip-off that a gang has brought red sandalwood in Dharavi area from Karnataka and laid a trap in Dharavi on Saturday night. The team saw a suspected, loaded tempo leaving the area and chased the vehicle. The police team eventually intercepted the tempo on Sahar Road in Andheri (East), said joint commissioner of police Milind Bharambe of the crime branch.
Police found red sandalwood covered in gunny sacks in the tempo. Tiwari was driving the tempo while Khamkar, Patyani and Malhotra were sitting inside, said a crime branch officer.
They were brought to the unit office in Kurla and the tempo with red sandalwood was seized. During questioning, the accused revealed that they were shifting red sandalwood from Dharavi to a godown at Sahar Road, said the officer. “The accused were planning to send it abroad. We have been investigating to find out how many others are involved in the racket. Soon a police team will visit Karnataka for investigation once we find the name of supplier,” added the officer.
The accused have been arrested on Sunday morning and were produced in the court which remanded them in police custody till April 6.