Agarwood of Rs 32.8 lakh stashed in check-in baggage seized

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Seized Agarwood smuggled inside a suitcase.

Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) sleuths of the customs department arrested two persons trying to smuggle out agarwood worth ‘32.8 lakh at the RGI Airport at Shamshabad on Sunday. Agarwood is used in manufacturing perfumes and its export is restricted.

Based on passenger profiling technique, the AIU sleuths apprehended two who were trying to board Saudi airlines flight to Riyadh.

The customs officials seized two suitcases, which were part of their checked-in baggage. “The two suitcases were stuffed with 53 kilos of Agarwood,” an official said.

The two accused arrived at the RGI Airport in a flight from Guwahati. “The smugglers are from Assam. Instead of taking a flight to Riyadh from Kolkata or Delhi, they booked a flight from Hyderabad thinking that it would be easier to smuggle out Agarwood from here,” the customs source said.

The accused had made a few trips to Saudi Arabia and the UAE before, which the of ficials think were related to smuggling activity.

Agarwood is the fragrant bark of Aquilaria trees, which grow in the NorthEast, and has demand world over for its use in production of perfumes, incense sticks, medicines and other substances.

Agarwood is in the Appendix 2 in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and to transport the wood within the country permission from the District Forest Officer is required. To export it, clearance from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau is needed.

The customs officials would be handing over the two arrested to the forest department officials for further investigation.

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