Ibrahim Akasha had a knack for arriving late for meetings that other people in his circle thought were important.
As the second in command of the multinational Akasha drug organisation, he felt like he was in control of time. Not even his elder brother Baktash could reprimand him.
So on February 26, 2013 after social media had calmed down about that year’s Valentine’s Day, and the roses received around the country had started to wither and die stem by stem, Ibrahim announced himself.
He posted a photo of a pearl white Mercedes Benz parked outside his palatial home in Nyali. The next photo was a selfie of him, straight-faced holding bundles of 100-dollar notes. The caption was simple: ‘4 da ladys’.
For him, Valentine’s Day had just begun. And from then on, he went on an all-out photo session on his social media accounts, displaying copious amounts of wealth.
Yesterday, all this showboating seemed like distant memories for him as he faced the judges for sentencing at a New York court. In August, his brother Baktash was handed a 25-year jail sentence. And as Ibrahim walked away in his orange, state-issued jump suit, at least three Kenyan judges, prosecutors and former and current law enforcement officers in the eyes of the American justice system found themselves one step closer to their date with destiny.
With the Akasha brothers were successfully sentenced, multinational law enforcement officers have now trained their sights on those Kenyan officers who for years aided and abated the crimes conducted by the Akasha brothers and their associates.
In his defence, Ibrahim argues that he got into crime because of his upbringing and being surrounded by brothers already indoctrinated into the dangerous drug underworld and a father who spared nothing to control the lucrative East African drug trade route.
“He was faced with the implications of stress, trauma, abuse and loss at the earliest of ages and, due to the familial and shared context of his environment, resorted to substance use to manage the pain and distress associated with his experiences,” reads part of his defence. “His participation in crime was a result of familial fear, intimidation and manipulation.”
His defence also argues that according to Kenyan culture, Ibrahim is expected to do as he is told by his elder brother.
However, other documents presented in court show that Ibrahim, named after his violent father, never fell far from the tree. He may not have been the apple in his father’s eyes, but after the bloody gunning down of the family patriarch on an Amsterdam street, the young Ibrahim took to his duties within his family organisation like a fish to water.
Officially, Ibrahim worked in his mother’s scrap yard, earning some Sh200,000 every month. This is the back-story he presented in court in an attempt to explain the origins of his wealth at his age. The real story though, was in what he did when he was out of his mother’s sight.
Court records and personal testimonies show that Ibrahim became one of the most violent, gun totting, drug operatives as a second in command, never missing a moment to display firearms with numerous incidents of violent outbursts.
“He had a penchant for guns and violence, as demonstrated at the hearing and by the numerous photographs of firearms found on his cell phone. He was deeply involved in the Akasha Drug Trade Organisation’s most recent criminal chapter, its efforts to avoid the reach of this court’s authority through a pattern of drug-fuelled bribery in Kenya,” reads the US government’s sentencing memorandum.
As Baktash made connections, Ibrahim became his enforcer. Moreover, he thrived in his role. For close to a decade, he was the capo di tutti capi in Mombasa. There were no consequences to the violent actions by the Akashas.
For instance, in 2015, politician Stanley Livondo confronted the Akashas and one of their associates at a mall in Mombasa. After the altercation turned physical and Baktash and Livondo exchanged blows, Ibrahim quickly drew a handgun, threatening Livondo with death.
In another instance, Ibrahim bribed a hospital employee to take pictures of a man he had brutalised a few days earlier as he fought for his life in the hospital’s High Dependency Unit.
This violent streak was however not apparent to his family. His sister describes Ibrahim as “hard working, generous, kind and humble.” Yet when Ibrahim stepped out of the family home, he was responsible for the transportation of hundreds of kilogrammes of heroin, negotiated drug deals with multiple international drug traffickers and had been violent for years.
In the course of the case, it also emerged that the Akashas were responsible for bribery to a scale never seen before in Kenya’s judicial system.
“They paid bribes to Kenyan law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, and at least three judges, and their scheme was successful for years,” the memorandum says. “The defendant and his co-defendants were able to obtain repeated adjournments of court dates in the hopes that it would weaken the US Government’s case due to a loss of witnesses and evidence.”
Their dalliance with officialdom did not end with bribery.
Ibrahim, in a secret recording by the US Drugs Enforcement Agency, also claims to have on several occasions stolen Ephedrine from government facilities. In the conversation, Ibrahim boasts of making trips to a Nairobi government facility, bribing everybody and walking away with thousands of kilos of the narcotic.
“I owned a van and used to drive it there at night. I could pay the people Sh45,000 or Sh50,000 to load the van fully and drive out with 1,000 kilos,” Ibrahim is heard bragging to a DEA informant.
Court proceedings paint a picture of two different Ibrahims. The first, the violent enforcer of his brother’s rule. The man who would not bat an eyelid as he pistol-whipped his rivals into submission. The man who drove around Mombasa with car loads of weapons and drugs and dollar bills to dish around to the country’s top judges and policemen who in exchange gave him free reign in Mombasa and beyond.
Then there is the other Ibrahim. One who after being cornered by law enforcement blamed those around him for turning him into a monster.
“Ibrahim’s history and characteristics are not of a man who was some bigshot drug trafficker. His childhood was riddled with abuse and humiliation. He grew into a man with very little backbone because Kenya culture did not permit him to disrespect elders,” his defence submissions read.
After all his pleadings, the second arm of the multinational Akasha drug empire had his fate sealed. With no corrupt judges to give him an easy way out, Ibrahim finds himself trapped in a puzzle he helped create, but unfortunately forgot how to solve.