Chennai, Oct 27 (UNI) Air Customs officials seized over 500 live star tortoises from a Kuala Lumpur-bound passenger at the international airport here late last night.
Airport sources said Abdul Khader (51) of Ilayankudi in Sivaganga District, who was scheduled to take the 2330 hrs Jet Airways flight to Kuala Lumpur, was found moving about in suspicious circumstances near the security area.
On questioning, Khader said he frequently visited Malaysia for business. Since his statements sounded contradictory, the officials checked his baggage and find 557 live star tortoises with an estimated value of Rs 4 lakh in the international market.
Khader confessed to purchase the tortoises from the Cauvery Delta Areas for about Rs 50 to Rs 100 each and smuggling them to Malaysia where it enjoyed huge demand for its medicinal properties.
Customs Officials later handed over the tortoises to Vandalur Zoo authorities. Khader was arrested and sent to judicial custody today.