Acting on a tip-off, officials of Jaleswar forest department on Wednesday conducted a raid and seized around 87 rare species of turtles while they were being smuggled to West Bengal from Remuna in Balasore district.
The raid team also arrested a smuggler in this connection and seized a motorbike used for transporting the turtles. The accused has been identified as Debabrata Dey.
According to sources, Dey along with his accomplice was smuggling the rare turtles to West Bengal on a motorbike from Remuna. On being informed, forest officials chased and intercepted them on National Highway-60.
Dey was arrested by the officials while his accomplice managed to escape. The turtles were packed in sacks and died, an official said.
“My accomplice had brought me here. He is handicapped and cannot ride the motorbike. So, he had brought me to ride the bike. I didn’t know about the turtles,” claimed the accused, Debabrata Dey.
When contacted, Jaleswar range officer Jayashree Murmu said, “It was a routine patrolling. We spotted them going on a motorbike. We suspected them as they had huge bags hanging on both sides of the motorbike. They tried to speed away after seeing us. But, we chased them and intercepted them on National Highway-60.”
“Smuggling of endangered species and valuable wood has become a routine affair. So, we are keeping a strict vigil and have increased patrolling at night,” she stated.
“We are trying to find out if the accused has any link with international racket of smugglers involved in the sale of turtles and other animals,” she added.