Ivory trade kingpin nabbed at Delhi

©IFAW - archive photo
Tuesday, 6 October, 2015
Delhi, India

A suspected kingpin of the ivory trade was arrested in Delhi earlier this week. Understood to be a major buyer of illegal ivory and manufacturer of ivory artifacts, the man was apprehended following detailed analysis of phone records of middlemen and poachers from Kerala, where an organized poaching syndicate was identified in June.

An enforcement team comprising the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and Kerala forest officials arrested Umesh Aggrawal on Sunday and has been lauded a major success by “Operation Shikar” which began soon after law enforcers discovered the poaching activities in Kerala.

Kerala State is in the south-west of India, running along the Malabar coastline.

India’s law makers were assisted in their investigations by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Wildlife Trust of India, who provided technical and field assistance to the operation.

A spokesperson for IFAW-WTI commented: “This is just the beginning of a legal battle as Mr Aggrawal’s highly placed lawyers are already exploring possibilities to secure his bail. We expect more suspects to be arrested in the coming few days”.

The investigators used human and digital intelligence to track the movement of suspects and build the linkages. Actionable evidence was handed over to the strike teams who conducted a covert operation through which suspects were arrested.

Law enforcers say Mr Aggrawal is a well to do businessman dealing in art and collectibles in Delhi. His company “Art of India” deals in exporting various artifacts from India. Art of India openly manufactured and displayed articles which looked and felt like ivory in various art exhibitions. The suspect is also being investigated for the possible involvement of preparation of fake ownership certificates for ivory products.

IFAW-WTI provided the much needed technical and field support to the Kerala State Forest Department from the start of the investigation. We also will be ensuring legal support to the case through our expert lawyers to ensure pro-conservation judgments in this case. 

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos are available at www.ifawimages.com

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