May 2000. Ibrahim Akasha is walking down a red-light district in Amsterdam to pursue a debt from a Yugoslav drug cartel headed by Sam Klepper before other dope brokers catch up with him.
With Akasha is his Egyptian wife Gazi Hayat. The walk is interrupted by a motorcycle horn.
Akasha turns but the assassin has already emptied six rounds. One grazes his face and the killer shot goes through his heart.
Akasha’s body was later flown to Mombasa and buried at the corner of his posh Nyali home.
His sons took over the empire their father had built – and started opening new trade routes.
It was big business which compromised police, the Judiciary and turned the coast of Kenya into a narcotic corridor.
Like their father, the sons became the law and inherited contacts he had in Amsterdam’s Oudezijds Achterburgwal district.
Americans took notice and hoped that Kenyan officials would put the Akasha boys behind bars. But, they had penetrated the security structures.
That is how senior Akasha travelled using four passports: two Dutch and two Kenyan.
By the time of his death, Akasha had more than Sh500 million in bank accounts in Kenya and abroad and had 60 kilogrammes of gold ingots.
There were six luxury cars, mansions and jewellery estimated to be valued at Sh60 million. In total, the Akasha estate was valued at Sh20 billion.
That was before security swarmed on them, seized everything and charged the boys with trafficking six tonnes of hashish valued at Sh940 million.
Nobody thought the Akashas would go to prison. While in court, their body language exhibited contempt.
By controlling the high seas around Mombasa and Malindi, the boys continued to dock as much hashish and cocaine as they would.
Police burst on Akashas’ first large cargo and seized a record one tonne consignment of cocaine valued at Sh5 billion at Malindi’s Rocky House, a luxury villa within Casuarina estate.
However, investigators said they did not know its owner. There was little progress and it took a court order for police to open up on where they were holding the cargo.
The seizure of a similar consignment in the Netherlands indicated that Kenya had become the nerve centre of traffickers from Colombia.
The then US ambassador Mark Bellamy lamented in official cables how the “international narcotics trafficking rings have made major inroads into Kenya, corrupting, bribing, intimidating and killing their way into position to operate with impunity”.
That did not deter police and port officials from looking the other way as containers continued to pass through the port of Mombasa.
Then a new Mombasa port Criminal Investigation Department chief, Mr Hassan Abdillahi, arrived in the Coast and disrupted the trade.
On September 3, 2005, Mr Abdillahi called a press conference and said eight people, among them five security officers, had been arrested in connection with a container theft racket.
Three months later, Mr Abdillahi was killed outside his Ganjoni home. The man the Americans had thought would help crack down on the Colombia trade route had been assassinated. For that, the Akasha boys had touched a raw nerve.
The opening of new drug routes from Latin America to Mombasa and then Europe via the Suez Canal had surprised the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In Kenya, the FBI later found that most of these shipments would be broken down and sent to Europe, hidden among standard exports like frozen fish and cut flowers.
In March 2014, the US Drug Enforcement Administration sent two agents who introduced themselves to the Akashas as representatives of a Colombian trafficking organisation.
During a meeting that took place in a Mombasa room with hidden surveillance cameras, Baktash said he would deliver “100 percent heroin”.
The price would be between Sh1.2 million and Sh1.4 million per kilo, but if the “Colombian cartels” paid upfront, it would range between Sh900,000 and Sh1 million.
At the same time, the Akashas were busy negotiating with Indian dealer Vijaygiri (Vicky) Goswami to help start a factory in Mombasa that would produce party drug crystal meth.
The other player in the saga was a Pakistan dealer, Gulam Hussein, also known as “the old man”.
The Kenyan intelligence finally caught up with them – and with drugs – and put them behind bars, kick-starting a series of cases on bonds and bail.
Once at the Whitesands Hotel, as the Akasha lawyer Cliff Ombeta admitted later, the Americans started recording their movements and he grabbed their laptop and threw it into the Indian Ocean.
He said the Akashas were “taken by force” because Americans knew they would lose the case in Mombasa. Interestingly, his clients admitted to the US court to have been trafficking drugs.