A 43-YEAR-OLD man was arrested on Saturday for allegedly storing red sandalwood, worth Rs 15 crore, for export to China and Hong Kong.
On September 10, Unit 9 of the Mumbai Police Crime Branch had arrested three men for storing 1.5 tonne of red sandalwood at a godown in Santacruz West in preparation for transporting the same to Goa by road and then to the far east by air. The accused were identified as Wajid Ansari (32), Ali Shaikh (32) and Asgar Ismail Shaikh (39).
After seizing the truck in which the red sandalwood was brought to Mumbai, the crime branch on Saturday raided godowns at Bhendi Bazaar and on Ghodbunder Road in Thane. It seized 65 boxes containing red sandalwood valued at Rs 15 crore, said Akbar Pathan, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime). The consignment was found to be stored by Mumbai Central resident Imran Shaikh, who was later arrested.
A crime branch officer said that Shaikh ran a logistics firm and was planning to send the red sandalwood abroad. We are investigating whether he meant to send the seized items to China and Hong Kong through air cargo or sea.
The crime branch said that the probe so far indicates that the transport companies, which had stored Shaikh s consignments, were unaware of the contents of the boxes. We will look through the bank records of the accused and examine his phone call data to find out how long he has been sending red sandalwood abroad illegally, said the officer.