Sleuths of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on Wednesday seized around 17 kg of elephant tusk at Silguri that came from Guwahati.
The DRI sleuths recovered the tusk from a container truck which was intercepted at Ghoshpukur on the outskirts of Siliguri.
The truck bearing registration number WB-23E-5533 was bound for Kolkata and came from Guwahati, DRI officials said.
The ivory — four pieces of tusk valued at Rs 1.69 crore in the international market — was hidden underneath a consignment of black tea packed in the vehicle.
The driver of the truck, Subodh Das, 43, was arrested later in the day. DRI sources said that during questioning, he revealed that the tusks were handed over to him at Baihata Chariali in Kamrup district.
“Preliminary investigation has revealed that the tusks were extracted from poached elephants in the forests of Assam and were being taken to Kolkata to be exported to South East Asian countries via Bangladesh. Poachers usually target illegal markets in China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam,” said an official.
“A strong nexus has formed between wildlife smugglers of neighbouring countries and India,” the official added.
The DRI is probing the involvement of more people in this racket.
DRI has detected a series of cases involving smuggling of elephant’s tusks. In four such cases in the past, a total of 38.604 kgs of elephant tusks have been seized by DRI this year. Eight persons have been arrested in these cases.