Crime Branch busts leopard skin smuggling racket, 3 arrested

Deogarh: The Special Task Force (STF) of Odisha Crime Branch today busted a racket involved in smuggling of leopard hide in Barkote area of Deogarh district.

As many as three persons including two sons of retired officials of Prisons department have been arrested in connection with the racket. CB sleuths have also seized a 7-feet long leopard skin from their possession, informed SP of Crime Branch STF Rahul PR on Friday.

The arrested youths have been identified as Ramanisen Behera, reportedly the mastermind of the racket, Jagnyadutta Behera and Sachikanta Nayak.

Acting on a tip off yesterday evening, a team of STF nabbed the trio while they were trying to crack a deal in Barkote area to sell the leopard skin in Rourkela. The CB officials are interrogating the accused after bringing them to Bhubaneswar from Deogarh

“Preliminary investigation suggested that the big cat was shot down. The STF is investigating all the angles of the racket and we are also probing to ascertain the exact location from where the traders had poached the leopard. Whether anyone else was involved in the racket is also being looked at,” said Singh.

Earlier on March 15, the STF had arrested seven persons and seized four leopard hides following raids at a lodge at Kuchinda in Sambalpur district.