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Key operator in red sandalwood smuggling racket held

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DRI arrested a key operator of the red sandalwood illegal smuggling syndicate involved in illegally exporting red sanders worth Rs 60 crore

red-sandalwood-313Mumbai: The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has arrested a key operator of the red sandalwood illegal smuggling syndicate who was involved in illegally exporting red sanders worth Rs 60 crore to Dubai last month.

The court remanded accused Avinash Kedkar to DRI custody till September 3. There was a lookout notice issued against him and he was arrested yesterday after he arrived from Dubai, a DRI officer said.

DRI officers suspect that the gang was involved in export of sanders worth Rs 500 crore. However, Kedkar’s advocate Ravi Hirani maintained that his client had only arranged for transport and had no knowledge of any smuggling of red sanders.

The DRI officers said, following specific inputs, some containers containing red sanders were seized while attempts were being made to smuggle them out by a Mumbai-based syndicate headed by one Pramod Keluskar and his son Hemang.

The officers said when they recorded the statement of one Rakesh Shah, in whose name the consignment was being exported, he informed that Pramod and Hemang had purchased three consignments of agglomerated marble tiles from him.

“The containers were purchased on the condition that the transportation of factory-stuffed and sealed containers from Silvasa to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and its customs clearance at JNPT would be handled by the buyer,” said a DRI officer.

The statement of Shashikant Pawar, the person who had arranged the transportation of containers, revealed that the booking was done by the accused, officers said.

“When summons were issued to Kedkar he did not comply with the order,” another DRI officer added.

PTI

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