Nearly 100 turtles were seized at the Sahar International airport by the air intelligence unit (AIU) from a flyer's check-in bag.
Mohammed Arif (22), who was trying to smuggle the turtles into Bangkok, was detained. Around 11.20pm on saturday night, Arif boarded a Thai Airways flight (TG-318) that was headed for Bangkok.The accused was carrying a hand luggage and a bag that he had checked-in with the airline.
While the bag was being screened, a Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd security official spotted an object that resembled a turtle. When the officer opened the bag, he found 97 turtles of different sizes. According to AIU officials, the turtles were wrapped in cloth and stuffed into a bag. The value of these turtles on the black market is estimated to be around Rs 50 lakh. Later, Arif was asked to get off the plane.
During interrogation, Arif revealed that his friend Nasir, a resident of Mohammed Ali Road, gave him the bag. The accused was paid $300 to take it to Bangkok, said an official. Turtles are in great demand as decorative animals. The demand is particularly high in southeast Asian countries, an AIU official said.
The case was referred to the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau. If Arif was booked under the Customs law, then he could have easily obtained bail. However, wildlife legislation is stringent against smuggling and ill-treatment of animals.
The bureau will decide the quantum of punishment, said an AIU officer. In September 2012, a man was caught with 10 turtles hidden away in his underwear. UNI NV OBB AV1225 NNNN Published by HT Syndication with permission from United News of India. For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at email@example.com
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