Bhubaneswar: More skeletons are likely to tumble out of the closet as the Odisha government ordered a crime branch probe into the snake venom trafficking racket which was busted in Bhubaneswar last month.
Sources in the State forest department said that the crime branch probe has been necessitated following initial revelations about the involvement of a well-oiled syndicate in the massive trafficking operation having links with international cartels.
Bhubaneswar City DFO, Ashok Mishra said that the State government handed over the probe to Crime Branch following recommendations of the forest department.
The development comes in the backdrop of a report prepared by the Odisha University of Agriculture Technology (OUAT) indicating the presence of organisms found in the mouth of snakes from the samples of venom which had been sent for testing. The venom had been seized from six persons who had been arrested in the trafficking case.
Mishra said that the venom samples were sent to 3 laboratories- OUAT in Bhubaneswar, Zoological Survey of India lab in Kolkata and the Indian Institute of Science (Bangalore).
As per the OUAT report, some organisms usually found in the mouth of snakes have been found during tests on the venom samples sent by us. Prima-facie it appears to be snake venom. However, OUAT officials are yet to confirm it. We are waiting from the reports from Kolkata and Bangalore for confirmation,” Mishra said.
It is pertinent to mention here that six persons including a woman had been arrested in Bhubaneswar last month on charges of smuggling around 1.5 litres of snake venom.
However, the prime accused in the racket, said to be from Bolangir, is yet to be apprehended.
“We conducted several raids, but failed to trace the prime accused. However, during investigation we learnt that the trafficking is carried out by an organized crime syndicate having international links. That is why the investigation has been handed over Crime Branch which is a specialized agency to deal in such cases,” Mishra added.