US links Kenyan minister and a politician to Akasha drugs network

A Kenyan Cabinet Secretary and a controversial governor are among more than 10 prominent Kenyans that the US Department of Justice is investigating over allegations of taking bribes from the notorious Akasha drug family.

The 10 are what a local judicial source described as “most culpable”, although many more have been mentioned in the documents exchanged between Kenyan and American law enforcement agencies.

In what is shaping up to become one of the biggest transnational narcotics investigations in recent times, local prosecutors are preparing to deal with requests from their US counterparts.

The requests by Washington, expected to be submitted by mid-December, might culminate in extradition proceedings against Kenyan suspects to face charges in the US, the sources said.

Other than the CS and the governor — who has previously been anecdotally linked to the criminal underworld and drug dealing — other senior officials on the US wanted list are an outspoken Rift Valley MP, a prosecutor, two High Court judges, two magistrates, and a senior criminal investigations officer.

They are all linked to the Mombasa-based Akasha family, which in its heyday built a golden triangle that ensnared all those who came their way, whether as customers, peddlers, spoilers, or accomplices.

Last month two Akasha brothers accused by US prosecutors of playing key roles in the family’s drugs business pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges in New York. Baktash Akasha and his brother Ibrahim pleaded guilty to seven criminal charges, including distribution of heroin and conspiracy to import drugs into the US.

During the Akashas’ bloody reign as one of Kenya’s most notorious crime families, the coastal region was awash with drugs that neither the police nor the judicial system appeared able to tame.

Nobody dared touch the Akashas, and for years they were the law — just like their father Ibrahim Akasha, a glorified trafficker who was shot dead in May 2000 by a lone cyclist in Bloedstraat, or Blood Street, a red-light district of Amsterdam where prostitutes work side by side with drug dealers.

In The Netherlands, Akasha did business with drug dealer Mounir Barsoum, an Egyptian who masqueraded as a coffee shop proprietor. Mounir and his brother Magdi owned Bar Red Light on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal district, the centre of drug tourism where coffee shops also sold bhang and other drugs in the open.

For decades, the Dutch tolerated the smoking of marijuana in coffee shops and turned a blind eye to the proliferation of dope smokers in such neighbourhoods. The Akasha family took advantage of the networks here and built a multi-million-shilling empire based on trafficking of both soft and hard drugs. Magdi was the broker between him and a Yugoslav dealer named Sam Klepper.