A 26-year-old Chinese national, who attempted to smuggle blocks of chopped red sanders wood, a protected species, was arrested and 27 kilograms of the highly valued timber seized from him on Monday.
Officers of air intelligence unit, customs, Chennai airport, intercepted Huang Guoxing just before he was scheduled to board a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong around 2 a.m. on Monday. He had packed the red sanders, chopped in different shapes, resembling finished products.
The officials then informed the ranger’s office of the forest department in Tambaram. After recording a statement from the youth, customs officials handed him over to the forest department. M. Mohammed Rafi, ranger, Tambaram, told reporters that Guoxing had reached Bangalore a fortnight ago and after taking possession of the consignment from a contact near Majestic bus terminus, reached Chennai by road a couple of days ago.
With the aid of a translator, officials discovered that the youth had made multiple trips to India since 2012. The value of the seized timber, as per the price fixed by the government of around Rs. 900 per kilogram, is Rs. 25,000. A case under Sections 41 and 56 (b) of Forest Act and provisions of Timber Transportation Rules has been registered. He was produced before a judicial magistrate in Tambaram and remanded in judicial custody for 15 days.
In the black market, the seized wood could be worth nearly Rs. 1 lakh and even more in China, where it is much sought after for traditional wedding ceremonies and use in medicines. Also called ‘sivappu santhanam’ (red sandalwood) , red sanders grows abundantly in borders along Andhra Pradesh in Nellore and Chittoor districts, apart from Gummidipoondi and Tiruvallur. It is protected under International Union for Conservation of Nature and also the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species on Flora and Fauna.