By Imran Gowhar
The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) at Kempegowda International Airport on Sunday busted a tortoise smuggling racket and nabbed two carriers from Tamil Nadu who were smuggling black spotted terrapins to Thailand. The officials rescued 72 black spotted terrapins and handed over the accused to the Forest Department officials. The duo, identified as Haroon Rashid and Mohammed Ali alias Imran Khan from Tamil Nadu, were caught while trying to pass two black suitcases as check-in luggage before boarding a flight to Kuala Lumpur.
Upon noticing movement in the suitcase through the baggage scanner, the CISF staff opened them and found the terrapins covered in cardboard and pillow covers. The legs of the terrapins had been taped together. The duo confessed that their contact in Chennai had asked them to hand over the terrapins to a person in Phuket.
Deputy Conservator of Forests Mahesh Kumar, who questioned them, said they were carriers working for an international smuggling racket based in Chennai. The duo had been given Rs. 10,000, with to and fro tickets to Thailand to hand over the bags. Inquiries revealed that they got the consignment from Kolkata to Chennai via sea route, and since security was heightened at the Chennai airport, the accused were sent to Bengaluru.
“We have got details of the accused in Chennai, and efforts are on to nab him,” Mr. Kumar said. The terrapins are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and the Wildlife Protection Act (1972) and cannot be traded internationally for commercial purposes.
The turtles have been sent to the Bannerghatta Rescue Centre. The accused have been remanded in judicial custody.
72 black spotted terrapins rescued at KIA