The city police on Thursday arrested ‘Karate’ Suresh, alleged gang leader and an accused in 19 violent crimes, including at least three underworld-linked murders. He has been a fugitive from law since 2009.

His associates ran a well-entrenched protection racket centred on Kazhakuttam, which was witnessing an investment boom owing to the sprawling IT campuses and allied infrastructure.

The gang’s clients were mostly businessmen sub-contracted by big builders to reclaim the wetlands on either side of the Enchakkal-Kazhakuttam bypass, the so called IT corridor, for construction. They also extorted money from those who transported earth and sand to the construction sites and supplied migrant labourers.

The huge amount of money involved spawned inter-gang rivalries, resulting in several murders, including the ones Suresh stand accused off. District Judge K. P. Indira Devi, while convicting Suresh’s henchmen in the gangland murder of his business rival “Aprani” Krishnakumar, had observed that Kazhakuttam had emerged as the hub of organised crime in the district.

Quoting Suresh’s “confessional statement,” the police said Suresh earned at least Rs.1 lakh a month by allowing his gang members to use his “notoriety” to settle land and money disputes in an extra-judicial manner. Suresh was at large and had committed crimes with impunity while on the run from the police. His “special status” earned him respect in the city’s underworld and easy money. But, it also put him on top of the city police constabulary’s most wanted list.

Investigators said that Suresh was living a double life in Bangalore. To many, he was an instructor at an upmarket gymnasium. To some, he posed as a vegetable cultivator from Wayanad.

The police got a wind of his whereabouts when they put on surveillance the mobile phones of some of his associates. They soon got a series of mobile numbers suspected to be that of Suresh.

The found that the locations of the phones changed intermittently between Wayanad and Karnataka. Investigators also learned that Suresh had married a fashion designing student from Wayanad in 2011. He had met her while in Bangalore. He had also recently purchased 5 acres of land in Wayanad to cultivate ginger. The police said they arrested him from this property in Wayanad.

City Police Commissioner P. Vijayan, Assistant Commissioner, Crime Detachment, K. E. Baiju and Circle Inspector, Control Room, A. Pradeep headed the operation.