Ibrahim Akasha sons wanted in US over 'drug trafficking'

Members of the Akasha family and their alleged accomplices sunk into deeper legal trouble yesterday after the US Government sought their extradition to face narcotics charges.

The suspects were detained on Sunday over alleged drug trafficking.

A court in New York has indicted them on conspiracy charges, alleging they planned to import narcotics, including methamphetamines into the US, an offense punishable by life imprisonment in that state.

According to filings revealed in court yesterday, 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 allegedly trace their ancestry), and East Africa.

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The US court says that the four men have set up a large-scale 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 (USD8,500) per kg.

Documents supplied by the New York court yesterday 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.

The records further show that the US court issued the arrest warrant against the suspects following a sting operation over several months this year by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in Nairobi, Mombasa and several towns in Pakistan.

AUTHORISED RECORDINGS

The operation that began in March, involved court authorised audio and video recordings by DEA agents posing as South American drug customers. The four suspects allegedly began negotiating a "multi-hundred kilogramme shipment of heroin" to New York.

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Last evening, the defence dismissed the New York court charges as "hearsay evidence" manufactured in the US.

But Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Alexander Muteti requested Mombasa Chief Magistrate Maxwell Gicheru to detain Baktash Akasha, Vijaygiri Goswami, Ibrahim Akasha and Gulam Hussein (from Pakistan), who are being held at the Port Police Station in Mombasa for 21 days to enable the Kenyan authorities start extradition proceedings.

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".

According to the Southern District Court in New York, an indictment issued by US Judge Gabriel Gorenstein on October 28 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".

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They are the subjects of indictment number 14 CRIM 716, filed on October 28, in which they are charged with conspiracy to import narcotics.

According to the indictment, DEA agents posed as South American drug traffickers conspiring to import the narcotics into New York.

Muteti's sworn affidavit contained the arrest warrant and the request to detain the suspects.

HIGH QUALITY

Between March and June, Baktash Akasha, Ibrahim Akasha and Vijay Goswami discussed the high quality of drugs needed for distribution in the United States, their access to suppliers of large quantities of high quality heroin, heroin prices, transportation routes for heroin and the history of producing and distributing controlled substances, says the indictment.

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It also says during a meeting in late April, Baktash Akasha was legally recorded on a Skype call with an individual in Pakistan where they discussed how to supply several hundred kilogrammes of high quality heroin for sale in the US. It is not clear where the meeting was held.

The US court papers further link Ibrahim Akasha and Baktash to a drug baron in Pakistan with markets in the Middle East and East Africa.

Baktash and his younger brother Ibrahim and their fellow suspects Hussein and Goswami are now staring at possible extradition to the US if the arrest warrant issued by US Magistrate Gabriel Gorenstein in the Southern District of New York and the extradition request is honoured by the Kenyan* Government.

Muteti yesterday warned that the accused should not be released on bond because there is a Red Notice warrant of arrest issued by International Police (Interpol).

"If these people were to leave this court and we hold a Red Notice on them, it will mean that we are being unco-operative and going against international treaties we had singed between Kenya and the US," he said.

The accused are represented by lawyers Gikandi Ngibuni and Cliff Ombeta who insisted their clients be released on bond.

Muteti told the court that even though Kenya has the jurisdiction to try the suspects, the US Government also has similar authority.

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New York United States Ibrahim Akasha Drug lord