In a major breakthrough, the Mumbai Crime Branch’s property cell officers arrested top bookie Shoban Mehta aka Shoban Kalachowkie from Panjim, Goa yesterday.
The accused, allegedly one of the biggest bookies in the country, had taken refuge in the coastal state after police were on the look out for him, as his name cropped up in the IPL-6 betting scandal that erupted earlier this year.
According to the police, Mehta had fled to a foreign country as the police crackdown intensified and had returned to Goa on June 28.
“After returning to Goa, in order to evade the cops, Mehta used to spend the entire day on a casino ship and only made his way to his five-star hotel room late in the night, said Nandkumar Gopale, police inspector with the property cell.
The 42-year-old accused has been in the illegal betting racket since the last 15 years and had a well-entrenched network. “Mehta is a resident of Kalachowkie, and hence the nickname. He is a prized catch and his arrest is likely to expose more names involved in the betting scandal,” added Gopale.
Cops are likely to bring Mehta to the city and produce him in the court today.
Mehta was earlier questioned in 2005 by the CBI and arrested by the Gujarat police where he had revealed he was in touch with various players like India cricketers Mohammad Azharuddin, Nayan Mongia and some prominent foreign cricketers.
“Mehta was in touch with several bookies, including Ramesh Vyas who was arrested by us, Ashwin Agarwal alias Tinku Delhi, wanted accused Pavan Jaipur and Sanjay Jaipur in the IPL betting case,” said Nitin Patil, assistant police inspector of the property cell. Police claim that Mehta had a wide network, spread all over the country.