Police arrested four persons including a farmer for attempting to smuggle a Sand Boa snake — declared as an endangered species — believed to have mystical powers to cure diseases, in a van near Attur in Salem district early Sunday morning.

Police sources claimed that security was tightened at various places in the district following `Vinayaka Chaturthi’ celebrations on Sunday. When a posse of police men was carrying out routine checking at the Manchini Gate check post, near Attur, a van drew to a stop and its occupants jumped out and attempted to flee from the scene.

After a hot chase, four members were apprehended. An intense check had revealed that they had a well-grown Sand Boa, weighing 2.5 kg, in a gunny bag in the vehicle. Police also said that a farmer Krishnan (52) of Attur Therkkukadu found the snake in his field and decided to sell it since he was told that the reptile would fetch him huge money.

He approached Vijayan and Chockalingam, both from Salem who bought the snake. While they were returning to Salem with the consignment, they were caught at the check post. Chockalingam remained absconding. The snake and the four arrested persons had been handed over to the forest officials for further investigation.

The officials claimed they were worried at the sudden spurt in the smuggling of Sand Boas in the State, thus forcing them to launch increased and frequent raids against suspected poachers and others. Smuggling and trading Sand Boas is an offence under the Wild Life Preservation Act. Police and Forest officials have also launched an intense investigation whether the latest incident has connection with any organised gang of poachers.

Keywords: sand boasmuggling