alexa Akashas Sh5bn Colombian drug deal that went wrong - Daily Nation

Akashas Sh5bn Colombian drug deal that went wrong

Friday November 23 2018

JOHN KAMAU
By JOHN KAMAU
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Before the Akashas came to the opium trade, the known drugs trail used to reach America via Central Asia and the Balkans.

They then became the main traffickers in a new southern route — or what western experts called a “Smark Track”.

The Akashas, thanks to a corrupt system, managed to get the cargo from Afghanistan to Europe and the US disguised as cement or horticulture produce.

This Indian Ocean path came to the attention of security agencies in 2010, when police in Tanzania arrested two Iranians and four Tanzanians in the northern port town Tanga with 95 kilogrammes of heroin.

HUNT

Worried that the heroin trade was to blame for the US military failure in Afghanistan, the Barack Obama government had decided to hunt for the kingpins of the southern route.

The Central Intelligence Agency is reported to have suggested that the escalating drug trade was fuelling a the Taliban outfits after every opium harvest between March and May.

This was a challenge to Obama’s desire to end all combat operations in Afghanistan by December 2014 in a country with more than 500,000 acres of opium. The annual US counter-narcotics spending had also climbed above $8 billion (Sh800 billion) in 2014, according to Alfred W. McCoy, the author of In the Shadows of the American Century.

AMERICAN CONTACT

The first American contact with the Akashas was in March 2014, when they sent two pseudo-traffickers who described themselves as representatives of a Colombian drug-trafficking organisation.

Unknown to the Akashas, the two had been wired by the US Drug Enforcement Administration, known to use covert cameras to arrest dealers. The meeting took place in a room with hidden surveillance cameras in Mombasa and Baktash was caught on tape promising to deliver “one hundred per cent” heroin.

The price, according to Baktash, would be between Sh1.2 million and Sh1.4 million per kilogramme, but if the “Colombian cartels” paid upfront, the price would range between Sh900,000 and Sh1 million per kilogramme.

Before the Americans struck, the Akasha family had approached Indian drug dealer Vijaygiri (Vicky) Goswami, 57, to help start a factory in Mombasa that would be producing party drug crystal meth, known for its highly addictive stimulant properties. The other player in the saga was a Pakistan dealer, Gulam Hussein, also known as “the old man”.

CALLED SUPPLIERS

In between, Baktash called his heroin suppliers in Pakistan and said he wanted to order 500 kilograms of “carat diamond” — which was a reference to high-quality heroin — destined for the US markets. He told the “Colombians” that it would cost $6 million.

In subsequent days, Goswami would reveal to the American investigators that he could help, as well, to procure chemicals to produce in East Africa crystal meth, which was in high demand.

Although Goswami had arrived in Kenya as a tourist, he was to take over the running of the drugs trade on behalf of the Akashas. The heroin was to be brought to East Africa by “the old man”, who arrived in mid-September 2014 in a “neighbouring location.”

A meeting was organised on September 14,2014 in which the two “Colombian” dealers were introduced to “the old man” whom they said was a narcotics transporter from Afghanistan.

'THE SULTAN'

During the meeting, Baktash named the heroin supplier as a person known as “The Sultan” — a close ally of Mr Goswami.

The Sultan had sent his own representative to the meeting and was asked to provide a kilogramme sample to the “Colombians”.

Goswami and Hussein said that “The Sultan” was “number one supplier of white heroin in the world.”

September 22, 2014 at a discreet location in Nairobi, Ibrahim Akasha and two co-conspirators who have not yet been arrested delivered one kilogramme of crystal meth to the Americans. It was on October 9 that both Goswami and Baktash called the Americans and told them that the “chickens” have arrived and it was 198 kilogrammes.

On October 14, Baktash handed over a kilogramme sample of heroin and Goswami confirmed that they would get 500kilogrammes more from the “same kitchen” — a reference to the laboratory where it was produced.

LURE AMERICANS

He also tried to lure the Americans to become partners in his crystal meth factory that he was setting up in Kenya.

The Akashas received $25,000 in cash for the transportation fee for the heroin and a further $45,000 in cash for the crystal meth they had provided as samples.

Mr Goswami then a text message to the “Colombians” directing them on how to pay the balance of $550,000 for half of the nine-nine kilogrammes of heroin. They were to meet later, get back their samples and await the transfer of the huge consignment and the wiring of cash.

Aboard a commercial flight to Mombasa on November 9, 2014, Ibrahim, Baktash, Goswami, and Hussein thought they were going to transact a Sh5 billion drug deal — a start of a lengthy deal with Colombian drug cartels.

They were wrong. They were arrested after landing in Mombasa in a swoop carried out by officers from the Anti-Narcotic Drugs Police Unit and US security agents. A career in drug dealing had come to an end.

FARSI TRANSLATOR

But attempts to finalise their extradition orders to the US stalled as one of those arrested claimed he could not understand English and needed a Farsi translator. “The Old Man” claimed he could only converse in Farsi, one of the Persian languages.

Also arrested — though later released was Goswami’s girlfriend, a famous Bollywood actor and socialite, Mamta Kurkani.

Goswami, according to Indian police records, is a master drug dealer. In the 1990s, he managed to send several large black suitcases from Mumbai International Airport to Cape Town, South Africa. These suitcases — at least five every day — were never accompanied and would be put in the cargo by airport workers and the luggage tags would be faxed to South Africa where the mandrax would be picked. Police later identified Goswami as the kingpin, according to Indian papers.

COVER BLOWN

It was not until his arrest in Mombasa that Goswami’s cover was finally blown and his allies in Kenya identified.

Vicky, as they call him in Mumbai, had been introduced into this trade by an Indian kingpin, Bipin Panchal.

The Akashas came in handy as he extended his empire to east Africa.

But attempts to have their case heard in Mombasa failed due to incessant delays through the judicial system.

Frustrated, President Kenyatta ordered their extradition.