The Forest Department of Tamil Nadu on Thursday, November 10 seized 750 kg of processed and semi-processed sea cucumbers, worth Rs 50 lakh in the international market, from a seafood-making unit near Thoothukudi and arrested three persons in connection with the case. Sea cucumbers are marine animals with leathery skin and elongated bodies. They are listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, giving them the same level of protection as tigers and thus, poaching them is illegal.
The arrested persons have been identified as K Senthil Kumar (48), A Sathikbatcha (35), and Nanthakumar (21). The trio was planning to take the sea cucumbers to Vedalai in Ramanathapuram district and smuggle them to Sri Lanka by boat from there. A special squad was on night patrol when a pungent smell drew their attention at around 1.30 am, a senior official told the media.
The team then raided VFS enterprises, which deals with seafood, and found sea cucumbers being boiled in large vessels. The police said that Senthil Kumar is a second-time offender who was earlier detained for trying to smuggle sea cucumbers.
They were engaged by habitual offenders, Meera Shah and Mansoor Ali, who have five-six cases registered against them for sea cucumber smuggling, and the owner of the food processing company, Vijayakumar.
All of them have been booked under relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Search is on to nab Mansoor Ali, Vijayakumar and Meera Shah, who are on the run.
Just a day earlier on Wednesday, November 8, Bengaluru police had arrested two people who tried to sell a crocodile hatchling that they had captured from the Kaveri river. The police found the crocodile hatchling in a container half-filled with water following the arrest. The two accused were booked under relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act and the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).