Kalimela: As many as 398 live tortoises were recovered and later seized today by a team of cops at a check gate under Motu police limits bordering Andhra Pradesh and in Malkangiri district, while the reptiles were being smuggled to elsewhere. Police have detained four persons in this connection.
According to a source, the reptiles were packed in 22 large sacks and kept in a mini-truck. The team also seized the vehicle and the accused persons are being interrogated to accumulate more information.
The police personnel were carrying out a route checking of vehicles in the morning. The tortoises were being illegally transported from neighbouring Andhra to Odisha. Motu police have registered a case and launched a detailed probe to ascertain the involvement of any other person(s) in the smuggling.
“The live tortoises were handed over to Forest department,” Motu police station IIC Laxmidhar Lenka expressed.
Tortoises have a good demand in Malkangiri markets and are sold for Rs 400 to Rs 500 per kilogram. The reptiles are usually smuggled from Kakinada locality in Andhra to Malkangiri district, IIC Lenka stated.