Two men arrested for smuggling sandalwood

The police in Paro have arrested a 45-year-old man of Shana village, Tsento gewog for smuggling 733.9 kilograms of sandalwood May 26.

The police, after being informed by their source, raided the suspect’s two-storied house for sandalwood on May 26. After a thorough search that lasted one and half hours, the police found the sandalwood logs hidden beneath wooden planks and farm feed sacks.

The 45-year-old suspect had dug a trench into the ground to hide the sandalwood logs.

The sandalwood logs seized from the suspect was of various sizes, ranging from one meter to more than two meters long.

The officer in-charge (OC) of Paro police station said, “The suspect had paid Nu 1,000,000 to the Indian supplier for the sandalwood in Jaigoan. The wood was brought in a truck from Phuentsholing, which was carrying river sand. The wood was placed under the sand. “

“After reaching Paro, the suspect had hired 10 horses to carry the wood to his village. He used some secret route, but not the normal route where RBA checking is very rampant,” the OC added.

During the raid, the police also found the suspect feeding 15 horses outside the house.

It is suspected that the 45-year-old suspect planned to use the horses to carry the sandalwood to China.

The OC said the suspect would have been successful in smuggling out 90 pieces of sandalwood to China if they had missed the raid by a few hours.

With the investigation completed by police, the case has been forwarded to forest department for further penalties.

The chief forest officer of Paro, Kaka Tshering said the suspect has been released but he has to pay Nu 550,425 as compensation and a fine of Nu 50, 000 for the offence of smuggling.

However, the suspect has been booked under Section 279 of the Penal Code of Bhutan, which reads, ‘a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of smuggling, if the defendant secretly and illegally imports or exports the restricted and prohibited goods or substances including animal parts.’

The offence of smuggling shall be a value-based sentencing, according to the Section 280.

Meanwhile, the Haa police have also arrested a man in connection with smuggling of sandalwood last week.

After police were alerted about the smuggling, police caught the 28-year¬old suspect about a few kilometers away from Haa town.

He was travelling in a private Bolero vehicle and the 15 pieces of sandalwood logs was hidden at the back of the vehicle.

Police recovered the sandalwood logs that were to be sold in China.

Sources said smuggling of sandalwood logs is happening due to the good market value and profit gained in sandalwood trade.

The case has been forwarded to the forest officials for their necessary action by the police.

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