New Delhi,Police in western India said they uncovered a snake venom smuggling racket after discovering 72 deadly snakes in an
apartment, dpa reported.
A police team found 41 Russell’s vipers and 31 cobras in the house of the main accused in the western city of Pune on Monday, local police chief Santosh Gosavi said by phone Thursday.
“We were shocked to find dozens of these poisonous reptiles slithering around in gunny bags and wooden boxes,” said another police officer who was part of the raid.
The suspect was away but his wife and two daughters were in the adjoining room. The police evicted the family and called wildlife officials to rescue the reptiles the next day, he added.
The accused, identified as Ranjit Kharage, 37, and an alleged accomplice were subsequently arrested.
“Locals were rattled and scared. They gathered outside in the block to see wildlife teams extract the snakes from the flat. He (Kharage) was carrying on the racket for three years and no one came to know of it.” Initial questioning revealed that the two used to buy snakes from snake catchers, extract the venom and sell or smuggle it. A case was filed against them under sections of India’s Wildlife Protection Act.
Snake venom is sold at a lucrative prices in parts of India, but keeping protected wildlife in captivity is illegal in the country.
Pharma firms buy snake venom to make antidotes. Local media reports say the venom is also used in party drugs and intoxicants.