Sangeeta Chatterjee, a former model and air hostess, was on Wednesday arrested by Chittoor Police from her apartment in Kolkata in connection with an alleged red sanders smuggling network. Officials said that Sangeeta was a girlfriend of Markondan Lakshman alias Lakshman Dange alias Tamang, a notorious international red sanders smuggler who was arrested in 2014 by Chittoor Police from Nepal.
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Based on his confessions and further investigation, it was found that his friend Sangeeta not only knew of his smuggling activities but she also played a major role in helping Lakshman expand his network by establishing contacts with smugglers in Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Kolkata. The special investigation team of Chittoor Police produced her in a Kolkata court to obtain a transit warrant. However, she was granted interim bail. The court has asked her to appear before a Chittoor court on May 18.
“She helped Lakshman establish a huge network across India to move red sanders. Lakshman has contacts in Myanmar and that is where the red sanders is finally moved to. They amassed crores in the process in the last few years and Sangeeta also made millions. She studied up to SSC only and became a model in TV commercials and later did some course and became an air hostess. She came in contact with Lakshman in Kolkata where he frequently used to stay as he had established a base there too. She helped him make contact with ‘agents’ in several cities across India who would join the network to smuggle the red sanders logs out of the country. She knew where Lakshman’s godowns were located,” SP C Srinivas said.
Markondan Lakshman hails from Manipur but is settled in Chennai with his wife. Till his arrest in July 2014, he was considered the biggest smuggler, involved in felling of red sandalwood trees in the forests of Chittor, Kurnool and Kadapa districts. “He used to throw lavish parties and was a frequent air traveler. In one of the parties, he came in touch with Sangeeta,” said Chittoor Deputy SP C Giridhar who is camping in Kolkatta.