Mumbai: The Ghatkopar police have identified criminals dealing in illegal wildlife materials. The police seized Ambergris; a secretion derived from sperm whales from the possession of the accused worth Rs.1.70 crore and have arrested two persons in this connection. The accused have been trying to sell the product in the black market. They have been identified as Rahul Dupare (53) and Lalit Vyas (44).
Ambergris is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish colour produced in the digestive system of sperm whales. It is a high demand product and the procurement and sale has been deemed illegal without a license in India. It has been made a controlled substance in India. It has been mostly known for its use in creating perfume and fragrances like musk.
With the joint efforts of the Mumbai police and the forest officials, the accused was arrested as a trap was laid for him. Mr. Dupare, the accused was arrested from Cama Lane in Vidyavihar on June 15. The material weighing 1.130 kg, which is valued at Rs.1.70 crore in the international market, was seized from him, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone VII) Mr. Akhilesh Singh said.
Mr. Singh said on interrogating Mr. Dupare’s and based on his statement the investigating team arrested Mr. Vyas. Mr. Vyas allegedly provided the ambergris to Mr. Dupare. This is suspected to be a bigger racket and more arrests are expected to be made in this regard.
The police suspect Vyas to have a greater part to play in the crime as he hails from Gujarat, which is a coastal region.
The accused have been booked by the police for causing harm to wildlife and trading wildlife products illegally under the Wildlife Protection Act. They have been remanded in police custody until June 20.
As the demand for ambergris is great, it has caused the sperm whale, from which the substance is extracted, to be declared as an endangered species in several parts of the world. In October 2018, the Thane Crime Branch had arrested three persons and seized ambergris worth Rs.20 crore from their possession.
A police officer said, Ambergris rackets are international rackets. To facilitate procurement of Ambergris there are agents based in coastal areas. Once they procure the product, they then supply it illegally across the country. We are investigating whether Mr. Dupare and Mr. Vyas are part of such an interstate racket.