Saturday, April 24, 2010

Armed sandalwood smuggling gang busted in Kerala

IDUKKI: An armed sandalwood smuggling gang was busted Saturday in Keralas Idukki district with the arrest of five persons, forest officials said.

This is the first case of an armed gang being busted in forests in Kerala, Divisional Forest Officer N T Sajan said.

Acting on a tip off, a forest team surrounded the gang, comprising five members, inside Nachivayal sandalwood reserves in Marayur forests.

The gang threatened to open fire and whipped out knives, but were overpowered, sources said.

A country-made gun, ammunition, hatchets, barbed belts and saw-blades used to fell trees were seized, he said.

We suspect that the gang has inter-state connections, considering their preparedness and modus operandi, Sajan said.

The same gang is suspected to have attempted to chop off sandalwood trees in the area about a month back. Their attempt was foiled but they managed to escape.

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