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Drug lords take cover as more arrests expected in crackdown

The spiriting away of Akasha brothers Baktash and Ibrahim and their two accomplices Gulam Hussein and Vijaygiri Goswami to the US to face drug trafficking charges has sent shockwaves within the highly secretive narcotics networks in Kenya, with fears that the American Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigators may have been monitoring the activities of multiple players.

Also fearing the worst are fellow drug kingpins and top politicians, security, customs and judicial officers who are said to have made a fortune by helping drug lords to conduct their criminal activities without being arrested or successfully prosecuted.

The court proceedings are, therefore, likely to be closely followed as they could provide more details on the drugs trade.

This comes as reports emerged that United States prosecutors could seek to impound property owned by sons of the slain drug baron, Ibrahim Akasha, worth more Sh100 million.

US laws allow to seek attachment of property owned by the suspects.

US prosecutors have held in indictment papers that pursuant to the country’s laws, the four suspects will have to forfeit all proceeds of the drugs trade, the subject of the criminal trial, whether obtained directly or indirectly.

PROCEEDS OF DRUGS

As per US laws, the prosecutors are at liberty to seek attachment of property owned by the suspects.

The suspects were on Tuesday slapped with four counts of drug trafficking violations in a New York court following a joint operation between the DEA and Kenyan authorities.

They are accused of trafficking in 98 kilos of heroin and two kilos of methamphetamine (meth) to the US valued at $1.1 million (Sh113 million) in 2014.

“As a result of committing the controlled substance offence alleged in counts one, two, three and four of this indictment, Baktash, Ibrahim, Hussein and Goswami shall forfeit to the US any and all property constituting or derived from any proceeds the defendants obtained directly or indirectly as a result of the said violation.

“If any of the property cannot be located upon the exercise of due diligence, has been transferred, sold to or deposited with third parties, has been placed beyond the jurisdiction of the court, has been substantially diminished in value or has been comingled with other property that cannot be divided without difficulty, it is the intention of the US to seek forfeiture of any other property of the defendants up to the value of the forfeitable property,” the indictment papers read.

POLICE COMPLICIT
The fears among drug barons and their accomplices were compounded by a warning from President Uhuru Kenyatta that more arrests and prosecutions will follow, giving the clearest indication yet that the government was involved in the extradition of the two Akasha siblings and their foreign accomplices on Tuesday.

“These people who are disturbing us with drugs, I want to tell them that their days are over,” he said.

“This is just the beginning. We have started hunting them down. You will continue to see and hear more. They will have to look for another country (to conduct their illicit trade), not in Kenya.”

He added that Kenya’s law enforcers will work with foreign partners in “relentlessly pursuing these criminal groups and their facilitators at every level”.

Coast regional commissioner Nelson Marwa has also put aside top security officers stationed at the Coast, hinting that officers from Nairobi will be used more to fight drug trafficking.

Mr Marwa said that officers based at the Coast were working in cahoots with the drug barons, hence the decision to use officers from Nairobi.

The degree of impunity with which the Akasha brothers and their accomplices went about their criminal activities in the coastal town lent credence to murmurs that top security officials in the coastal city were on their payroll.

An incident in August 2015 is instructive.

CONTRACTED TO KILL

On that occasion, the two Akashas and Goswami forced a mining business associate into a meeting and forced him to agree to whatever business terms they would suggest.

Come December 16 that year and the businessman was picked up at gunpoint and was allegedly forced to withdraw Sh1.1 million from his bank account.

Last October, the Times of London reported that three British women suspected of killing a wealthy relative in Kenya had turned to one of Africa’s most infamous alleged drug dealers to help “settle” a dispute over his estate.

The drug lord turned out to be Baktash.

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