Deported gangster Santosh Shetty made a fortune out of narcotics trade during his decade-long stay in south-east Asia.
Highly-placed sources in the crime branch told HT that Shetty had initially set up a unit to manufacture Mandrax tablets in a southern Indonesian island. “He would procure raw materials locally and manufacture the banned drug by bribing local officials,” said an officer from the team that is interrogating Shetty.
From the money raised through Mandrax trade, Shetty set up his own three-star hotel in Bali. He had earlier opened another hotel in Jakarta in partnership with his mentor Chhota Rajan. However, after Rajan turned against him, Shetty shut down his business in Indonesia and fled to Thailand, leaving behind his Indonesian wife and son Suraj in Jakarta.
In Thailand, Shetty re-established his Mandrax business. From the money earned through the Mandrax business, Santosh lead a lavish life and rarely interfered in gangland activities in Mumbai for a considerable time, until he formed a union with Bharat Nepali for protection from Rajan. “This is how the SS Group came up,” sources said, quoting Shetty. The fear of retribution from Rajan also forced Shetty to extend an olive branch towards Rajan’s old foe Dawood Ibrahim’s confidant, Chhota Shakeel.
On August 2008, Shetty’s first wife, Sheerin who lives in Bangalore with their daughter Isha, went to meet him in Bangkok. “Shetty promised her that he would give up crime and lead a normal life. However, soon after, his name started hitting headlines for criminal activities and Sheerin cut off all ties with Shetty,” sources claimed.
But Shetty was unrepentant and enjoyed the high life with his Thai mistress. His financial clout ensured the required protection from authorities in Thailand and helped evade arrest once in the past. Even when the Mumbai police team went for his arrest early this month, Shetty had “bought off” his liberty.
The persistent efforts of the Mumbai police and the Indian embassy foiled his last ditch attempt.