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Crime branch officers raided godowns in Bhendi Bazaar and Thane on Friday and Saturday and seized more than 2,200kg of red sandalwood worth ₹15 crore. The police arrested the main accused in the case, 43-year-old Imran Rafiq Shaikh, for allegedly smuggling red sandalwood from Chennai into the city.
This is the second time in less than two weeks that the crime branch has busted a red sandalwood smuggling racket. On September 10, crime branch unit 9 officers had intercepted a tempo in Santacruz and arrested three people for allegedly smuggling 1,500kg of red sandalwood worth ₹7.5 crore to the city.
"The accused were planning to smuggle the sandalwood to Hong Kong, where it is in great demand. While interrogating the three men, we got leads on Shaikh," said deputy commissioner of police (detection-1), Akbar Pathan.
"We received leads about the consignment smuggled by Shaikh while probing the transportation source of the previous consignment," said senior inspector Mahesh Desai.
The police then raided godowns at Ghodbunder Road and Bhendi Bazaar and seized 2,200kg of sandalwood. They later nabbed Shaikh and booked him under relevant sections of IPC and Indian Forest Act.
The police said that smugglers bring sandalwood from Chennai and hide them in godowns in Mumbai and Thane before sending it to Goa. From there, it is smuggled to Hong Kong in small quantities.
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