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In Photo: The two arrested men (in civilian attire) and the Belakoba range forest officials with the three glass jars containing snake venom and the pistol on the table. 

By A Newsman

Siliguri, 31 August: FOREST officials from Belakoba in Jalpaiguri district in northern Bengal on Monday confiscated a consignment of snake venom believed be worth around Rs 150 crore.

Two middle-aged men who were smuggling the venom in three glass containers have been arrested and a .9 mm pistol loaded with nine rounds of live bullets has also been seized from their possession.

This is the second snake venom seizure in north Bengal in just about two months. On 28 June, the foresters had confiscated another consignment of black Cobra venom worth about Rs 100 crore at Belakoba while being allegedly smuggled from France to China via Bangladesh-India-Bhutan. Six persons were arrested on that occasion.

As regards today’s seizure, the range officer of Belakoba forest range Sanjoy Dutta said that acting on a tip off they intercepted a North Bengal State Transport Corporation bus at Bangshihari police station area in South Dinajpur while it was heading to Siliguri.

During a thorough search, the foresters found three glass containers with snake venom in them hidden in bags that were in the possession of Ismail Haque and Amulya Mondal ~ both in their late forties. A loaded pistol was also found on Ismail and the duo was arrested at once.

Ismail told the foresters that he was a resident of Itahar in North Dinajpur and Mondal said he hailed from a village in South Dinajpur district.

“We are still interrogating them to learn from where they had picked up the consignment and where it was to be delivered. The duo is saying that the sized venom is that of dreaded snakes such as Kobra etc but we would send the samples to forensic laboratories to confirm,” Mr Dutta said adding the price of the venom in international market is around Rs 150 crore.

Snake venom is in demand usually for use in medicines and to produce intoxicants.