Santiago Martin: The Mastermind Behind Tamil Nadu's Underground Lottery Operations

Santiago Martin: The Mastermind Behind Tamil Nadu's Underground Lottery Operations

There was no lottery in Tamil Nadu, so he dealt with its bulk sales, getting lottery from the North East states like Sikkim, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura and selling it all over the south, and in Tamil Nadu.

V SudarshanUpdated: Saturday, March 16, 2024, 07:28 AM IST
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Santiago Martin: The Mastermind Behind Tamil Nadu's Underground Lottery Operations |

Lottery sales had been banned sometime in 2003 by the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu. When the government changed the following year, it made a quiet comeback and soon it was being sold openly.

Santiago Martin was one of those behind the sales of lottery. There was no lottery in Tamil Nadu, so he dealt with its bulk sales, getting lottery from the North East states like Sikkim, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura and selling it all over the south, and in Tamil Nadu. This he did through a series of distributorships in each and every district. Along with regular lottery tickets, fake lottery tickets were also sold, with the face value of five or ten rupees. No one caught on to the racket for a long time.

Santiago Martin's story

Nobody knew why the police were not taking any action. That was the time when the new ADGP in charge of the organised crime wing of the Crime Branch, began to get regular intelligence of lottery tickets being sold openly. It was an activity that was punishable for upto two years imprisonment.

When he began looking into the matter, he heard a story about Martin which was difficult to believe but the story was told by someone to whom Martin had given money. This man had gone to Martin's house to collect the money, some three crores. Martin made him wait and went upstairs and came back lugging a heavy suitcase which he handed over. The man took the suitcase and placed it in the dicky of his car and began counting the money along with the driver to make sure that he had not been shortchanged.

The money was all in hundred rupee notes. Each bundle had a hundred notes and ten of each of these bundles had been further tied together to form a bigger bundle. When they finished counting the bundles they found that there was five crores, two crores more than what had been promised. Not believing it, they counted it again. Yes, they had two more crores than they had asked for. The man took the suitcase back and told Martin that there was extra money. How much? Martin asked. Two crores, he was told. Martin thought about it for a moment and said, in Tamil, Vechchukko, Keep it. It was too much of a bother to lug up two crores up the stairs again.

Martin was lavish with his money. When the operation was planned against him, the fear was that the word would get out. The idea was to do a state-wide raid. In 200 places, in all the districts, and in the cities. The cover was to prevent human trafficking. That is what they were being deployed for. In all the districts police were on stand by near the fax machines. The instruction was there would come a fax with the details of where the raids had to be conducted and within an hour they were to report back with the results of raid. The real purpose of the raid was revealed only when each of the raiding parties received the instructions.

The raids proved successful. They arrested the lottery vendors and in a couple of days they were able to work up the chain through the distributors to the bigger distributors. In sixty of the 200 raids the trail led to Martin, who was named as the accused. He absconded.

Then the officer was transferred. It is widely perceived that the DMK subsequently learnt to live with the lavish Santiago Martin, who was a willing instrument to many. As the Rs 1368 crores electoral bond donation to the BJP shows, he has since managed to spread his wings.

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