Police today filed a charge sheet against 25 persons, including an alleged kingpin of the red sandalwood smuggling syndicate, in connection with the seizure of the precious wood worth Rs. 9 crore near Bombay High off the Mumbai coast last year.
“We have filed a charge sheet against Mohammed Ali Abu Bakar Sheikh and 24 others in connection with the case,” said DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni, also a spokesperson for Mumbai Police.
The 2287-page charge sheet contains a list of 60 witnesses and names of seven accused who are absconding.
The consignment weighing 23 tonne had been seized in a joint operation by the Coast Guard and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in December last when it was being smuggled to Dubai through the sea route.
As per the operation, the barge ‘MV Ganga Sagar’ had sailed from Mumbai with around 23 tonnes of red sanders for transfer at sea to ‘Al Marwan, a dhow which had sailed from Veraval in Gujarat showing consignment of 100 tonne of maize for Dubai.
The arrangement was that ‘MV Ganga Sagar’ and ‘Al Marwan’ will meet at Bombay High- an offshore oilfield 162 kms off the coast of Mumbai- to transfer the consignment.
However, before the gang could execute the plan, the sleuths of the Coast Guard and the DRI apprehended them.
The two central agencies had handed over the 24 persons involved in the smuggling to the Crime Branch of Mumbai police which placed them under arrest.
Sheikh was arrested later.
A special MCOCA court had acquitted Sheikh and seven others in a case related to murder of a rival smuggler.