The Pimpri-Chinchwad police arrested five men and recovered 207 sandalwood trunks worth ₹6 crore from them, according to Krishna Prakash, commissioner of Pimpri-Chinchwad police.
The five arrested were identified as Nilesh Vilas Dhengre (35), a resident of Sangamner in Ahmednagar; MA Salim (43), a resident of Shimoga in Karnataka; Vinod Prakashh Fernandes (45), a resident of Katkarwadi in Navi Mumbai; Zakirhusain Abdulrehman Shaikh (50), a resident of Trombay in Mumabi; and Mintobhai alias Nirmalsingh Manjitsingh Gill (36), a resident of Kalamboli in Navi Mumbai, according to the police.
Dhengre, Salim, and Fernandes were first arrested by the officials of Wakad police station, Police Naik Vandu Gire and Hawaldar Rejendra Kale, who were on a night patrol on the night of May 12, according to the police.
They were in a Maruti 800 car in Tathawade area of Pimpri-Chinchwad. The front number plate of the car was missing, and the back number plate was broken which allegedly raised the suspicion.
“The two people who were standing behind the car ran away when the police started asking them questions,” read a statement from the police.
The police found pictures of the red sandalwood in Dhengre’s phone which was shared with someone. The technical analysis of his phone led the police to track the truck.
The truck was full of 207 red sandalwood tree trunks weighing 6.420 tonne. The total worth of the seizure including the trunks, one truck, a Maruti 800 car, and two mobile phones as estimated to be ₹6, 52, 45,000, according to the police.
A case under Sections 420 (cheating), 467, 468, 471 (using forged as genuine), 120(b) (criminal conspiracy), 379 (theft), and 34 (common intention) of Indian Penal Code along with Sections 41 and 42 with 45, 52, 65(a), 69 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927; and Sections 37 and 82 of Maharashtra Forest Rules, 2014 was registered at Wakad police station.