The Navi Mumbai crime branch arrested three persons on Wednesday, who would allegedly sell a rare species of the Sand Boa snake, collecting them from different places.
The accused allegedly charged the customers anything between Rs1 and Rs5 crore for one snake. They would convince the customers that by keeping these snakes, they could become rich and could gather huge property as the snakes would find out the 'secret wealth' of people's forefathers.
"We got a tip-off that three suspicious people were coming to the city to sell some snakes. We sent a dummy customer to purchase snakes from them. As soon as we got confirmed reports, we arrested the three of them near the Little World mall, Kharghar. We recovered four Sand Boas from their possession," said Suresh Mengade, deputy commissioner of police (crime branch).
The arrested men have been identified as Firoz Khan, 44; Rohit Mishra, 23; residents of Uttar Pradesh and Anil Jadhav, 21; a resident of Sangli.
Khan would get the snakes from different places and take them to Mumbai. Mishra and Jadhav would find customers and take commissions in return. They had been selling snakes like this for the past two years.
"The suspects would inject some medicines into the snakes' bodies to make them look larger than the original size. We have also seized several medicines and syringes from their possession. We are now trying to find out why they injected medicines and made them look bigger," Mengade said.
The police have booked the suspects under section 420 of the Indian Penal Code and sections 51 and 52 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. They were produced before the judicial court on Thursday and have been remanded to police custody for two days.
The snakes were later released at Karnala bird sanctuary in Panvel as directed by the court.