Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

Sambalpur:  The Special Task Force (STF) of Odisha Crime Branch today busted a racket involved in the leopard skin trading in Kuchinda town of Sambalpur district. Senior officials informed that seven persons have been arrested and four leopard hides seized from their possession.

Acting on a tip-off, the Odisha Crime Branch had formed a team to nab the gang involved in the illegal trade of wildlife products.

"We have seized four leopard skins and arrested seven persons involved in the racket." said an official.

The accused have been identified as Sanjay Bagh, Sunil Kallu, Dusraj Patel, Minaketan Mundu, , Kailash Majhi, Jhulaketan Naik and Kumad Bara. All the accused hails from Sambalpur and Jharsuguda districts.

Senior STF officials informed that the all the accused will be interrogated to ascertain the involvement in the poachers and their links with other members involved in the illicit trade. Sources said one leopard hide is being sold at a cost ranging from Rs 10 to 30 lakh in the international market.

Crime Branch STF has initiated further investigation to collect more information to ascertain where the poaching of leopards took place, whether in Odisha or outside. Besides, a detailed probe will be initiated to ascertain whether the gang members have any international links or not.

"We have initiated probe into the case and will find out whether the gang members have any international links or not. Efforts will be made to bust the entire network including the prospective buyers and poachers involved as well," said STF SP Rahul PR.