Customs officials seized several wildlife species, including marmosets, red-handed tamarins, tricolored-squirrels and iguanas, at the Chennai international airport on Tuesday and detained three persons.
Acting on information that these animals were likely to be smuggled in from Bangkok, officials maintained vigil and noticed a passenger moving in a suspicious manner near the arrival area on Tuesday morning. He was intercepted at the exit when he was walking in a hurried manner. The passenger was identified as Suresh, 35, who had arrived from Bangkok and on examining his stroller bag, four plastic baskets and one small cardboard box were found concealed among his things.
Officials from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau found them in containers. There were two marmosets, three red-handed tamarins, two Prevost’s squirrels, two black and red eastern gray squirrels and 12 Iguanas. A team of veterinary doctors were called from Arignar Anna Zoological Park who inspected the containers found three squirrels dead on arrival but other animals in a healthy condition. The Animal Quarantine Officials further recommended that the animals be sent back to country of origin as the passenger who was apprehended did not have any NOC/DGFT license for their import into India.
On questioning, Suresh said that the stroller bag had been given to him by an unknown person outside the Bangkok airport with instructions to hand it over to an unknown person outside the Chennai airport. Suresh was taken outside and a receiver who approached him to collect the bag was also apprehended. Based on information given by him, a search was conducted in the residence of the person who had asked for the animals and he was also detained for further investigations.
A press release from Rajan Chaudhary, Commissioner of Customs said that the wildlife species were seized under the provisions of Customs Act 1962 read with FT (DR) Act and that the animals would be deported to Bangkok .