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DRI officials bust smuggling racket in Ambergris extracted from sperm whales on Kerala coast

Photo for representation

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) busted a smuggling racket in Ambergris (extracted from sperm whales) on Kerala’s Tuticorin coast which poses a threat to the nation’s marine life and seized 18.1 kg of Ambergris valued at Rs 31.67 crore, according to a finance ministry statement issued today.

Ambergris is a solid, waxy substance that fetches a very high price because it is used as a fixative in expensive perfumes as it allows the scent to endure much longer. However, these smugglers pose a danger to sperm whales which are a protected species.

Based on specific information that a gang would be attempting to smuggle ambergris out of India through the sea route near the coast of Harbour Beach in Tuticorin to Sri Lanka during the night hours of May 18, DRI officers intercepted a vehicle along with five persons and recovered 18.1 kg of ambergris from the front seat of the vehicle. The occupants confessed that they were smuggling the substance, the statement explained.

Ambergris is a product of sperm whales, which is a protected species listed under Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and is thus prohibited for possession/export/transport. Ambergris was thus seized along with the vehicle used for transporting the prohibited item.

DRI in its endeavour to protect and safeguard the flora and fauna from such smuggling attempts has intensified its vigil and surveillance in the coastal areas. In the last two years, DRI has seized around 40.52 kg of Ambergris valued at Rs. 54 crore in the international market, attempted to be smuggled out of India from the Tuticorin Coast, the statement added.

Four persons from Kerala and Tamil Nadu actively involved in this smuggling attempt of Ambergris were arrested and remanded under judicial custody.

Further investigation is under progress.