A Pakistani national known as “The Sultan,” who was recently arrested in London, acted as a heroin supplier to the Kenya-based “Akasha Organisation”, US prosecutors have said.
Muhammad Asif Hafeez, 58, is facing extradition to New York where he would stand trial in federal court on charges that could result in a prison sentence of 30 years or longer.
“From Kenya and Mozambique to London and New York, Hafeez’s alleged drug operation saw no borders or boundaries — until now,” said Joon Kim, the acting top US prosecutor in Manhattan.
“The ‘Sultan’ trafficked in drugs on a massive and global scale, working with transnational criminal organisations to manufacture and distribute enormous quantities of heroin and methamphetamine around the world and into the United States,” Mr Kim said in a statement announcing Mr Hafeez’s arrest in London on charges related to the Akasha case in New York on Friday.
A US indictment unsealed on Friday alleges that Ibrahim Akasha, one of four Kenya-based drug-smuggling suspects now awaiting trial in New York, delivered a one-kilogramme heroin sample on behalf of Mr Hafeez to a US undercover agent in Nairobi in 2014.
An earlier indictment involving the four Akasha associates states that one of the four, Vijaygiri “Vicky” Goswami, had told a secret US agent that “’The Sultan’ was the number one supplier of white heroin in the world.”
Mr Hafeez is further said to have conspired with Mr Goswami to establish a methamphetamine factory in Mozambique.
Mr Goswami, a 55-year-old Indian national described by prosecutors as manager of the Akashas’ narcotics business, allegedly made those arrangements in 2015 after being released on bail following his arrest in Kenya the previous year.
But the plan to manufacture narcotics in Mozambique for shipment to the US and other countries was abandoned in 2016 after law enforcement authorities in India seized about 18 tonnes of a substance used in producing methamphetamine, US prosecutors said.
Much of that substance was intended for use in the drug factory that Mr Goswami and Mr Hafeez had agreed to set up in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, the indictment states.
Mr Goswami was extradited from Kenya to New York in January along with co-defendants Baktash Akasha, the alleged leader of the drug-smuggling ring, his brother Ibrahim Akasha and Gulam Hussein, a Pakistani national.
The Akasha brothers are the sons of Ibrahim Abdalla Akasha, a wealthy Kenyan shot dead in Amsterdam in 2000.
The elder Akasha had fled Kenya after being linked to a multi-tonne shipment of hashish seized by Kenyan authorities.
The four suspects in custody in New York are said to have conspired to transport 98 kilogrammes of heroin to the US.
The Akasha brothers, Mr Goswami and Mr Hussein are each facing potential sentences of life imprisonment.
Their trial is expected to begin in a few months.