A man was arrested in Meerut on Thursday for allegedly being in possession of 12 star tortoises and five red-eared sliders, all alive and smuggled from Chennai in Tamil Nadu, which he intended to sell to his customers.A joint team of the Meerut forest department and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Noida, arrested the accused, Sumit Garg, at ‘Hazari ki Pyau’ near Sai Temple in Meerut on Thursday morning. According to officials, the accused was carrying the turtles and tortoises, listed as ‘scheduled animals’ under the Wildlife Protection Act, in a blue backpack. He had taken received these animals in a parcel at New Delhi Railway Station Thursday morning, from a train which arrived from Chennai.“We found that he was carrying the tortoises in two paper cups in his bagpack. He was arrested under sections 2, 9, 50 (1) and 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act,” Aditi Sharma, divisional director, social forestry department, Meerut, said.According to Sharma, Garg, a resident of Shastri Nagar in Meerut, was involved in the exotic turtle business for the past two years.“Garg used to sell the animals to people who wanted to keep these animals as pets. The cost of each would depend on the customer’s demand. He was procuring these animals from Chennai. Based on information he gave us, we recovered a living tortoise from Shubham Goswami, a resident of Jagriti Vihar in Meerut, to whom Garg had recently sold the animal,” Sharma added.According to the Wildlife Protection Act, it is illegal to own a ‘scheduled animal’ as a pet.“India has a huge market for the illegal sale of exotic turtles and tortoises and we have received information from the accused about the network of these illegal sales. We are currently working on the information, and arrests will soon be made,” said Sharma.