The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has arrested national-level shooter Prashant Bishnoi, a key accused in multi-crore gun-running and wildlife smuggling case.
The arrest comes a month after raids conducted by the DRI at Bishnoi's residence in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut resulted in the recovery of about Rs one crore in cash besides over a hundred illegally imported firearms, 117 kg of nilgai meat, horns and skins of leopards and blackbucks.
Bishnoi is alleged to be the kingpin of a global syndicate involved in smuggling of fire arms and wildlife.
He appeared before the DRI officials on Thursday in response to a summon issued against him. Following interrogation, Bishnoi was arrested, official sources said on Friday.
During the interrogation, he was confronted with evidence gathered during the probe. Bishnoi accepted to be the part of the global smuggling racket, the sources claimed.
Three accused including Slovenian national Boris Sobotic Mikolic have already been arrested for their alleged involvement in the case.
The trio were intercepted after their arrival at the Delhi airport by a Turkish Airlines flight from Slovenia's capital Ljubljana via Istanbul on April 29.
They were carrying 25 illegally imported lethal weapons and other items worth about Rs 4.5 crore with them, according to a senior DRI official.
They had incorrectly declared the quantity and value of the arms and ammunition to the customs officials and tried to get these items cleared by misusing the scheme meant for renowned shooters, he said.
The rules permit professional shooters to import a limited quantity of arms and ammunition for practice.
The accused -- Amit Goyal, Anil Kumar Langan and Mikolic -- were arrested for allegedly violating customs rules to evade payment of import duty, the official said.
Following the detention of the accused, the DRI had carried out searches at multiple places including the house of the Prashant Bishnoi, son of a retired army colonel, and seized over hundred illegally imported firearms, 117 kg of nilgai meat, horns and skins of leopards and blackbucks, he said.
Unaccounted cash of about Rs one crore and two lakh cartridges were also seized during the searches, the official said.
The firearms of various make and models – Glock (Austria), Italy-made Beretta, Arsenal, Benelle and Blaser (Germany) -- were seized along with expensive cameras, thermal imaging binoculars and cartridges during the raids.