Bhopal, March 1, 2019 (Ataullah Faizan): International smuggler of rare turtle species, Manivannan Murugesan, was denied bail by the Supreme Court of India on Wednesday, a communique from the Madhya Pradesh government said.
Murugesan was arrested by a team of Special Task Force (STF) from Chennai on January 30, 2018. He was later produced at a court in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh. Since then, he is lodged in the local district jail.
The arrest was seen as a successful step in dismantling the international animal smuggling mafia. Even Interpol had praised India’s attempts in arresting Murugesan.
Murugesan, a resident of Singapore, was the third-most wanted smugglers engaged in illicit turtle trade.
His network allegedly spanned across Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Madagascar and several other countries.
Interpol, during a conference in Bangladesh in July 2018, had shared documents pertaining to an arrest warrant against Murugesan issued by a Thailand court.
However, his 2018 arrest wasn’t his first brush with law enforcement agencies. He was earlier nabbed on Aug 27, 2012, from the Bangkok airport. He was allegedly carrying 900 turtles during the time of his arrest, but managed to secure a release later.
Apart from Murugesan, the STF also arrested 13 members of his racket from four states. A high-end car was also seized from them. The red-crowned roofed turtles seized from their possession are said to be found only in the Chambal wildlife sanctuary. Their population is estimated to be about 500.
Murugesan is also accused of selling off rare turtles found in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka and Kerala to other countries.