Mumbai

Duo arrested, ambergris worth ₹1.70 crore seized

Cracking down: Police personnel displaying the ambergris, derived from sperm whales, seized from the two accused on Tuesday.  

Two people have been arrested for allegedly trying to sell ambergris, a secretion derived from sperm whales, on the black market. The Ghatkopar police have also seized ambergris worth ₹1.70 crore from the accused, identified as Rahul Dupare (53) and Lalit Vyas (44).

A controlled substance in India, ambergris is derived from the vomit of the whales and is used in the manufacture of rare perfumes and fragrances like musk.

The high demand of the substance has made its procurement and sale illegal without a licence.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone VII) Akhilesh Singh said, “In collaboration with forest officials, we laid a trap and arrested Mr. Dupare from Cama Lane in Vidyavihar on June 15. The substance weighing 1.130 kg, which is valued at ₹1.70 crore in the international market, was seized from him.”

Mr. Singh said based on Mr. Dupare’s interrogation, the investigating team arrested Mr. Vyas, who allegedly provided the ambergris to Mr. Dupare. “Prima facie, we suspect this to be a big racket and more arrests are expected.”

Investigating officers said Mr. Dupare is a resident of Nagpur. However, Mr. Vyas, who hails from Gujarat, is suspected to be a key player in the racket. Mr. Singh said, “Ambergris is found in deep seas and coastal regions. As Gujarat is a coastal region, we suspect Mr. Vyas has a larger role to play in the racket and our investigations are under way.”

The police have booked the duo for causing harm to wildlife and trading wildlife products illegally under the Wildlife Protection Act. The duo have been remanded in police custody till June 20.

The demand for ambergris has caused the sperm whale, from which the substance is extracted, to be declared as an endangered species in several parts of the world. In October last year, the Thane Crime Branch had arrested three people and seized ambergris worth ₹20 crore from them.

“Ambergris rackets are active not only in India but all over the world. Typically, there are agents based in coastal areas, who facilitate the procurement and then supply it illegally across the country. We are investigating whether Mr. Dupare and Mr. Vyas are part of such an interstate racket,” a police officer said.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 3:13:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/duo-arrested-ambergris-worth-170-crore-seized/article28068205.ece

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