A huge consignment of red sandalwood meant to be smuggled out to China has been seized by the Delhi Police Crime Branch in coordination with the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence from a warehouse at Janakpuri in West Delhi. The consignment is estimated to be worth Rs.2 crore.

The breakthrough came when Head Constable Azad Singh of the Crime Branch received information about a person named Hemant Gandhi who had allegedly been indulging in large-scale smuggling of red sandalwood, which is banned in the country. The suspect had stocked a large consignment in a Janakpuri godown.

After developing the information, the police alerted the DRI Headquarters and a team comprising officers from the Crime Branch and the DRI raided the place in the Asalatpur area of Janakpuri. “We seized 10 tonnes of high quality red sandalwood. Hemant was also picked up for questioning,” said a police officer.

Investigations revealed that about a month ago, a consignment of 16 tonne red sandalwood being dispatched by the accused concealed in a container was intercepted by the DRI sleuths in Okhla.

“The storehouse from where the second consignment has been seized belongs to one Gautam Kohli, whose brother operates from China and is suspected to have helped Hemant in getting custom clearances for the consignments sent there. Although the accused claims that he had been operating for the past three years, the DRI would probe to ascertain since when he was in this business. Hemant, who has his own transport business, used to get the supplies from Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh,” said the officer.

In the recent past, large seizures of red sandalwood -- used for medicinal purposes apart from the extraction of oil and manufacturing of incense sticks and handicraft items -- have been made in different parts of the country revealing that organised gangs operating in Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra and Maharashtra smuggling the precious wood abroad. Instances of attempts to smuggle red sandalwood consignments to Dubai have also been recorded in Gujarat and Punjab.