The state forest department has busted a racket thriving on smuggling fresh water turtles while arresting three persons in Kalimela area of Malkangiri district.
The arrested persons were carrying the turtle-laden lorry to Malkangiri when the forest personnel intercepted the vehicle with nearly one thousand smuggled aquatic animals.
The arrested accused persons were running an organized turtles smuggling racket. They had expanded his trade base from Malkangiri to Telengana. During interrogation, they confessed to the crime.
The seized turtles were later released into nearby water-bodies, which were safe habitat for these aquatic animals. The offenders arrested under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and prevention of cruelty to animals act were later remanded to judicial custody.
The latest seizure of fresh water turtles has brought under sharp focus on wildlife poaching in general and smuggling of these protected aquatic animals in particular.
The recent spurt in commercial trade of fresh water turtles has become a cause of concern for forest personnel.