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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 16 November 2014

PANIC AS AMERICA JOINS WAR ON DRUG BGARONS

Mombasa tycoons and those in the capital city of Nairobi with links to the Ibrahim Akasha family including government officials among them police officers based at Bamburi, Nyali and Parklands Police Stations are in panicky mood.
We have also established that apart from drugs, the investigators are also closing in on the illegal arms trade using the Lunga Lunga border post on Kenya-Tanzania.
In Nairobi, it is said a member of the Akasha family who runs a garage in Parklands area has been untouchable and boasts of having officers at the station in his pocket. Just days back, he raided Diamond Plaza harassing the owner. City tycoon Raju Shanghani has also been a victim. It happened before his brother was arrested.
The war against drug trafficking along the Kenyan Coast took a new turn last week after anti-narcotics police officers arrested two sons of slain drug baron Akasha, Baktash Akasha Abdalla and Ibrahim Akasha Abdallah. The two other suspects are Indian Vijay Goswami and Pakistani Hussein Shabakash. According to well placed sources, the four are in the US’s Interpol Red Notice over their engagement in narcotic trade. It is emerging also that on the American radar are Mombasa car dealers and tycoons with political links. Aware the barons had infiltrated the police unit prior to the arrest, a number of the officers have been transferred to upcountry stations. We have established that mobile communications between the accused and accomplices, their bank accounts and properties are being investigated.
But what has caused more panic is the USA’s request to have the suspects to be tried in Washington over international drug trafficking. What is now emerging is that the US is not only interested in the four suspects but could go for other top government officials and politicians suspected to have been involved in drug trafficking.
Fear has gripped a number of politicians that have been mentioned in previous reports over alleged drug trafficking and even those who had been cleared of the allegations. US and other developed countries have always complained that the Kenya government has been reluctant in dealing with the menace. According to the notice, Kenya has to process the extradition request within 21 days.
It is against such suspicion that immediately after the arrest of the four suspects, the US served the Kenya government with the notices through the ministry of Foreign Affairs and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to have the four face trial in Washington.
The four face charges of conspiring to import narcotics. Baktash Akasha, Ibrahim Akasha, Vijay Goswami and Hussein Shabakash are charged with conspiracy to import heroin. Goswami faces another count of importing methamphetamine in total violation of United States laws. Shabakash is also cited as a transporter of multi-hundred-kilogramme quantities of heroin in the Middle East, including from Afghanistan and Pakistan regions. The charged offence is punishable by a maximum of life imprisonment.
Sources say the raid was conducted in conjunction with United States of America security agents to fight the return of drug barons. Baktash Akasha Abdalla and Ibrahim Akasha Abdallah were arrested alongside two Indians and a third suspect whose nationality has not been established over their alleged link to the heroin trade in the country. Just months back, Baktash differed with politician Stanley Livondo at Nakumatt Nyali. Those who witnessed the incident say Livondo warned the young Akasha his days were numbered and if not careful, he will spend his final years behind bars.
What is even causing more worries not only to the Akashas but even to other Kenyans mentioned earlier in drug trafficking cases is the fact that already, a court in New York has indicted them on conspiracy charges, alleging they planned to import narcotics, including methamphetamines into the US, an offence punishable by life imprisonment in that state.
According to sources, the US alleges the brothers and their fellow suspects operate a drug trafficking network that spans the continents through Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East where the Akashas trace their ancestry and East Africa.
It is suspected the four men have set up a largescale drug manufacturing and transportation network, with Baktash as the kingpin and that they planned to import 97 kilogrammes of heroin into the US from which they would have reaped about Sh765,000 per kg.
Documents supplied by the New York court last week revealed that US federal agencies have linked the four suspects to a drug-laden ship intercepted off the Kenyan coast mid-this year, carrying 340kg of heroin.
In a report, Baktash is described as the leader of an organised crime and drug trafficking network and his bother Ibrahim, a chief lieutenant in Baktash’s alleged drug trafficking activities.
Gulam is said to be a leading transporter of heroin across Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Middle East and East Africa, while Vijay, apparently from India, is said to be the principal manager of Baktash Akasha’s organisation’s drug manufacturing and distribution business syndicate.
According to the Southern District Court in New York, an indictment issued by US Judge Gabriel Gorenstein on October 28 this year and delivered to Kenyan authorities through the US Embassy in Nairobi on November 10, states the four “are wanted to stand trial in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York”.
The dramatic arrest of the four suspects follows orders from President Uhuru Kenyatta to bring to book all suspected drug barons. The arrest comes barely a month after Uhuru supervised the destruction and sinking of a ship laden with heroin worth Sh1 billion.
Sources say the anti-narcotics police unit in Mombasa had intercepted 98 packets of heroin in a raid carried out in Nairobi and five packets were released to the US government for evidential purposes.
According to inside sources, on the day of the raid at about 4pm,  police officers from Kenya led by an officer in charge of anti-narcotics unit in Mombasa Hamis Masa and six foreign officers from US stormed the Akashas’ home in Nyali, ransacked the whole house, arresting Baktash and three other guests from the Emirates.
The US has been making serious allegations against the Kenya government over her failure to stop the illegal trade. The US claims that Kenya is being used as a conduit for the illegal trade.
According to a report, Mombasa is considered a major international transit route in the global drug trade. In the late 1990s, Ibrahim Akasha was notorious for trading in illegal drugs around the world before he was assassinated in Holland in May 2000.
Reports indicated that Akasha had fallen out with Yugoslavia barons operating in the Netherlands and other parts of Europe over non-payment of heroin worth over Sh200 million. Later in March 2003, the elder Akasha son Kamaldin was killed at a petrol station near Makupa Police Station in Mombasa.
The arrest refreshes the memory of how Akasha was killed. One day in May 2000, Akasha was walking hand-in-hand with his wife when a gunman on a motorbike sped by. The two had just stepped into Bloedstraat (Blood Street), in one of Amsterdam’s red districts, when the man whipped out a pistol and fired at Akasha. The bullets ripped through his face, tore his heart and abdomen. He slumped to the ground, dead.
Media reports indicated Akasha had fallen out with Yugoslav barons active in the Netherlands and other parts of Europe over the non-payment for the  consignment of the heroin. In 2004, another drug dealer Mounir Barsoum was shot dead in his car at traffic lights in Amsterdam as a spate of gangland assassinations escalated. His daughter, 12, was airlifted to hospital in a critical condition. The gunman fired 10 shots into the car.
In 2002, Magdi was shot dead in the same street where Akasha had died.
Magdi was the man who had invited Akasha to the Netherlands as the dispute festered. Some reports indicated that Akasha was actually lured to Amsterdam to be killed as the foreign drug barons had lost confidence in him.
His troubles had started in 1996 when he was arrested and charged with drug trafficking in a Nairobi court. When one of his brothers was arrested and charged with trafficking heroin worth Sh13million in 1998, Akasha turned to a Yugoslav conduit to ship his consignments to Europe. It was this agent who failed to pay, sparking the dispute that eventually led to Akasha’s demise.
Just days after he flew to the Netherlands surveillance of his activities intensified after police found nearly five tonnes of heroin worth Sh900 million in his house.
But as the government puts on brave face to show that it is ready to fight drug trafficking, the international community however, believe that it has not done enough. 
Police officers assigned to deal with trafficking have always either acted with a lot of suspicion and fear as some people warn that it is a dangerous assignment.
One officer who has been involved in the fight against drug trafficking once said that Akasha used a speedboat in the trade and that made it impossible for them to get hold of him but later the government confiscated the vessel.
In one of the many reports about drug trafficking in Kenya, a speedboat was also used in the Sh6.4 billion drug haul, part of which was located at a Malindi villa in December 14 2004.
The report further reveals some of the suspected entry points are Bodo, Kinondo where a major drug consignment was discovered in 1997 and Shimoni and Majoreni.
The Mombasa Old Port on Mombasa Island, Mtwapa Creek, and areas bordering some North Coast hotels, especially where access to the beach is difficult for fishermen and police, are also entry points. Others are in Kanamai area, Kikambala, Bofa, Tezo and Kilifi beach, Watamu, Malindi, Ngomeni, Mambrui and along the beaches of some islands in Lamu.
The report says that it is suspected that speedboats are used to bring in drugs for local use or those on transit. Crafty drug barons also use roads to bring in narcotics. The road from Likoni Ferry to the Kenya-Tanzania border is frequently used to transport drugs from Dar-es-Salaam to Mombasa.
It is also suspected that some drug barons use matatus, although private top-of-the-range cars, which are rarely stopped and checked on roadblocks, sometimes come in handy. It is said when the barons use matatus, they collude with some police officers.
It is said the traffickers use mobile phones to get in touch with their contacts at roadblocks or some police officers to ensure safe passage of the drugs. Also used to bring in the hard drugs, especially at border points, are bicycles and Tuk Tuks.
It is also alleged that the Moi International Airport, in Mombasa, has been used as an entry point for drugs despite tight police checks. According to the International Narcotics Board, some traffickers use small planes.
Sources allege that some senior people in government work with local and international drugs cartels. It has been widely claimed that Akasha used to give some police officers monthly handouts.
According to WikiLeaks Releases: Nairobi Cable No 8 December 9 2010 the absence of convictions in high profile cocaine cases and the New Year’s Eve murder of the lead police officer investigating drug trafficking through the Port of Mombasa amply demonstrate that international narcotics trafficking rings have made major inroads into Kenya, corrupting, bribing, intimidating and killing their way into position to operate with relative impunity.
Little progress has been made in exposing those behind the shipment of, or providing political protection for, the record one tonne-plus shipment of cocaine seized here in December 2004. The lacklustre performance of legal and law enforcement authorities in the cases, the increasingly whispered fear that national politicos are providing protection for the ring, and now the murder of officer Hassan Abdillahi, sharply undermine the confidence that Kenyan authorities are serious about combating international narcotics trafficking.