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Confiscated snake venom priced at Rs 4 cr tests positive

A case under sections 3, 39, 44, 49B and 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, was registered on Saturday at the Gharaunda police station, Karnal, said the police, adding that the accused will once again be arrested.

gurgaon Updated: Apr 27, 2019 23:47 IST
Venom,Snake venom,Racket busted
Illegal snake venom samples confiscated by Haryana wildlife officials from Karnal in February this year have tested positive for containing components of venom from Russell’s viper and saw-scaled viper. (Getty Images)

Illegal snake venom samples confiscated by Haryana wildlife officials from Karnal in February this year have tested positive for containing components of venom from Russell’s viper and saw-scaled viper.

At least 1.6 kilogrammes of venom was seized from four people who were first arrested and later released on bail.

The police said the seized venom is worth Rs 4 crore in the international market.

A case under sections 3, 39, 44, 49B and 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, was registered on Saturday at the Gharaunda police station, Karnal, said the police, adding that the accused will once again be arrested.

The wildlife officials said they had sent samples on March 3 to Haffkine Institute in Mumbai for verification and on Friday they received a positive report after a month-long wait.

Deepak Alwadhi, divisional wildlife officer, said the police had arrested four men from Anaj Mandi of Gharaunda in Karnal. The accused were identified as Om Parkash of village Sakdi, Sonipat; Jaibir Singh of Gharaunda, Karnal; Mukesh Kumar of village Rashin, Gharaunda, Karnal and Karambir Singh of village Chajjpur, Panipat.

During interrogation, the accused revealed that the venom was meant to be smuggled to other countries. The police are still probing what the venom would have been used for.

How the racket was busted

VS Tanwar, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) and chief wildlife warden, Haryana, received a tipoff that a group of four men in Karnal were looking for buyers of snake venom. He assigned the task to Deepak Alwadhi, divisional wildlife officer, to further investigate the matter. Alwadhi said he traced the accused to Karnal. He formed a team and informed the crime investigation unit of the Karnal police.

On February 27, the accused men shared an address of a shop in Anaj Mandi in Gharaunda, Karnal, with two decoy customers set up by the police team.

The wildlife officials sent an informer and one undercover constable of police as decoy customers to finalise the deal with the accused.

Alwadhi said they had asked the constable to give a signal when they had the venom jar in their possession. “Although they were demanding Rs2 crore for one litre and the deal was finalised for Rs 55 lakh,” he said.

The execution

Alwadhi said after the deal was finalised, the informer asked them to prove that the venom was real. As there was no laboratory in the area, the accused men decided to conduct a test on a hen. The constable bought a hen from a shop and signalled at the police team. “Meanwhile, the police team raided the shop and arrested the four men red-handed and seized a plastic jar weighing around 1.6kg,” said Alwadhi.

Uses of snake venom

Alwadhi said that in the black market, snake venom is used to make illegal drugs priced at several lakhs of rupees for a single gram. The wildlife officials said one litre of venom can fetch as high as Rs 2 crore in the international market.

“Snake venom is in huge demand among drug addicts in the country, as well as abroad. Apparently, the venom can induce deeper hallucination as compared to cannabis,” Alwadhi said, adding that it is legally used by scientists and doctors to produce anti-venom medicines for snake bites and several other fatal diseases.

First Published: Apr 27, 2019 23:47 IST