Kanpur, Mar 31 (PTI) The Special task force (STF) of UP Police has unearthed an international gang of turtle smugglers and arrested the gang leader here with 27 kg of dried turtle calipee, an official said today. Also Read - Fact Check: Viral 'Asur' Idol is Not Modelled After Chinese Prez Xi Jinping, But Inspired From Mongolians

The gang leader ,identified as Saleem Sheikh of West Bengal, was arrested from Kanpur Central Station while he was waiting for the Brahmputra Express to reach Malda yesterday, STF’s Inspector General of Police (IGP), Amitabh Yash said. Also Read - Durga Puja Pandals Alerted as IMD Predicts Heavy Rain in Bengal Over Next 2 Days

The dried turtle calipee were of as many as 13 endangered species found around rivers including Ganga, Gomti, and Ghaghra which is a hub of the endangered species, the IG added. Also Read - PM Modi Flaunts Traditional Bengali Attire Curated by Union Minister Babul Supriyo For Inauguration of Durga Puja Festivities

Following inputs about an international gang involved in smuggling of endangered species of turtle and illegal business of dry turtle calipee being active here, a team led by an additional SP rank official was pressed to gather intelligence about the gang and its members.

A joint team of STF and forest officials nabbed Saleem and seized 27 kg of dried turtle calipee stuffed in two bags from his possession.

Initially he tried to mislead STF while being questioned to find out where he was taking dried calipee and other possible links including middlemen, carriers and traders- involved in illegal turtle trade, said STF’s Additional SP, Arvind Chaturvedi.

Later, however, he admitted that some smugglers were hired to collect dried soft shell turtle calipee from Kanpur and its neighbouring districts including Etawah, Etah, Mainpuri, Auraiyya and Farukkabad to be handed it over to international gang members operating from West Bengal.

The turtle calipee was to be smuggled to China and Malaysia through Bangladesh where it was supposed to be sold at Rs 50,000 per kg, Chaturvedi added.

A case has been registered and efforts are being made to make more arrests, the ASP added.PTI COR SAB DV

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.