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Sandalwood seized
The three arrested for smuggling red sandalwood in Siliguri. (Kundan Yolmo)

Siliguri, Feb. 8: The directorate of revenue intelligence seized red sandalwood worth around Rs 1.9 crore and arrested three persons from Ghoshpukur last night.

A team of DRI officials from Siliguri division spotted two trucks parked at Ghoshpukur, 30km from here.

“Once we spotted the vehicles on NH31, we first nabbed the drivers and while searching the trucks, we found red sandalwood inside,” a DRI official said.

“Around 17 tonnes of red sandalwood were recovered from the vehicles and its estimated price in the international market is Rs 1.9 crore. The sandalwood was hidden under marble slabs on the trucks,” he said.

According to the official, the drivers and the cleaner were waiting to unload the sandalwood somewhere near Naxalbari or Kharibari close to the India-Nepal border. “After dumping them in a village, the smugglers would have sent it to the other side of the border with the help of some carriers,” he said.

Drivers Md Ilias and Md Nasir Khan and cleaner Md Imran Khan are from Manipur. The sandalwood was loaded from Andhra Pradesh and was taken to Jaipur in Rajasthan. From there marble slabs were loaded on the trucks and the sandalwood was hidden under them. The wood was being smuggled to China through the India-Nepal border, the official added.

“We have got some names after interrogating the arrested persons. The Andhra-Jaipur-Siliguri-Nepal route is an infamous corridor for red sandalwood smuggling and it is a common way for smugglers who usually sent the items to China and Japan where the wood is used in medicines, cosmetics and making musical instruments,” he said.

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