Pune Sandalwood Smuggling: Police chase tempo for 7km on Nagar highway, find 190kg stolen logs in concealed compartment

Pune: Acting on a ‘solid tip-off’ received about sandalwood smuggling, a team of Pune Rural police chased a tempo for around 7 kilometers on Pune-Ahmednagar road on the intervening night of Monday/Tuesday, to find the vehicles carrier area empty, but a thorough inspection of the vehicle unraveled the mystery. The tempo had a concealed compartment and a whopping 190 kg logs of sandalwood were stashed in it.

Police Inspector Padmakar Ghanwat of the Local Crime Branch of Pune Rural Police had received the information about sandalwood smuggling from a trusted source. Accordingly they laid a trap on Pune-Ahmednagar road to intercept the vehicle. However, the suspects tried to mislead the police by putting up a fake number plate.
Upon realising that the tempo which crossed them a while back would be the suspected vehicle, the police team started chasing it. During the chase of 7 kilometres, the tempo driver got a whiff of the action and tried to escape. Finally the police managed to intercept the vehicle.
The tempo driver was identified as Suraj Ubale (24). Police searched for the sandalwood stock in the tempo but found the carrier area empty. Subsequent questioning of driver Ubale, led to the discovery of the hidden compartment in the tempo. It was constructed by making part of the carrier floor removable and installing a tin box beneath. Police inspected the compartment and found 190kg sandalwood worth Rs 20 lakh hidden inside it.
Inspector Ghanwat told media persons that this modus operandi of the suspect points towards an organized inter-district sandalwood smuggling racket being run. Usually the sandalwood is illegally felled and then sold to factories extracting oils for various purposes, including making cosmetics. We are investigating all aspects and will soon nab the masterminds behind this smuggling racket.”
Wildlife crime control board experts said illegal cutting and transportation of sandalwood is punishable under the Indian Forest Act and Maharashtra Forest Rules. A sandalwood tree grown anywhere – a private, government or forest land – comes under a set of legislation when it comes to cutting and transporting it.

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