He started as 'godi ka chor' (a petty thief at Mumbai docks) and then graduated into the trade of red chillies, which gave Mohammad Iqbal Memon his alias Iqbal Mirchi. He later shifted to drug trade but the alias remained 'Mirchi'.When the CBI and Mumbai Police went after him in 1995, Mirchi used to call police officers to ask them why were they after him, recalled a source.
Mirchi, born in 1950, married to famed Bollywood producer-director K Asif's daughter Hina Kausar, who also dabbled in acting. "From the beginning, he was not a tapori (petty hoodlum)," said a source.
Kausar had returned to India in July 2011 to move the Bombay high court for revoking detention order against her husband to enable opening of her two flats which were sealed when Mirchi fled India.
Iqbal Mirchi was alleged to have smuggled mandrax, a recreational drug, to African countries. He had set up a factory in Mumbai's Vashi area to manufacture drugs. It was later shut by law enforcement agencies. Till the Mumbai serial blasts of 1993, Mirchi quite frequently travelled to Mumbai, but then he stopped visiting the city. He already had huge business empire in Dubai. He owned a hotel and shipping company in Dubai with the money laundered from drug trade.
Mirchi's troubles compounded when Amar Suvarna, the manager of his rice mill in London, decided to cooperate with authorities.
Suvarna quit Mirchi's employment and returned to Mumbai. He was later gunned down by hired killers on Mirchi's instructions near Rytham House in Kala Ghoda area in 1994. Mirchi's rice mill in London was raided by the British authorities.
The CBI team led by Neeraj Kumar, then a DIG of the probe agency and now the director general of prisons in Delhi, decided to seek Mirchi's extradition in connection with Suvarna's murder.
Sources said his extradition was declined on technical grounds. The Scotland Yard even closed investigation against Mirchi in 1999. The Home office granted him indefinite permission to stay in Britain in 2001. But Mirchi's name was added to the list of narcotics drug kingpins by the US State Department. His name also figured in the trial of a Briton, Hemant Lakhani, who was convicted of selling arms to an FBI agent posing as a Somali terrorist in 2005. He has been residing in Essex county, England, for the last many years.