The Akasha boys made millions of dollars from trafficking illicit narcotics to the United States, Europe and Asia; aping Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel – today considered Mexico’s most powerful criminal organisation – that was once headed by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
For years, US Embassy officials had complained about the narcotics trade and drug trafficking at the port of Mombasa that seemed to have defeated authorities.
In one of his diplomatic cables, later leaked by Wikileaks, former US Ambassador Mark Bellamy lamented how the “international narcotics trafficking rings have made major inroads into Kenya, corrupting, bribing, intimidating and killing their way into position to operate with relative impunity.”
The death of the senior Akasha had left his sons to control the trade – continuing with their father’s vice.
Most notable were Baktash Akasha ,40 and Ibrahim Akasha, 28.
In December 2004, a record one tonne consignment of cocaine worth Sh5 billion, and disguised as bananas, had been seized in Malindi’s Rocky House, a luxury villa in Casuarina Estate – and there was no progress on who were the owners. The drugs were hidden in a refrigerated container’s false floor and packed in the fuel tanks of a speedboat ready for shipping. How such a huge consignment had passed through the port without detection intrigued observers – but the seizure of a similar consignment in Netherlands indicated that Kenya had become the nerve centre of traffickers from Colombia.
As police and port officials looked the other way, more containers had continued to pass through the port of Mombasa until a new Mombasa port Criminal Investigation Department chief Hassan Abdillahi arrived at the scene and disrupted the trade.
In September 3, 2005 Abdillahi had told the Press that eight people, among them five security officers, had been arrested in connection with a multi-million-shilling container theft racket at the port – and vowed to stamp it out.
Three months later, and on the eve of New Year, Abdillahi was assassinated outside his Ganjoni home as he parked his car.
“The New Year’s Eve murder of the lead police officer investigating drug trafficking through the Port of Mombasa amply demonstrate that international narcotics trafficking rings have made major inroads into Kenya, corrupting, bribing, intimidating and killing their way into position to operate with relative impunity,” said Bellamy in his note.
The Americans believed that by shipping cocaine in multi-tonne loads, the drug traffickers must have been assured that it would be protected.
“This was not a virgin voyage, but one which employed a well-used route,” Bellamy wrote home.
It was reported that drug cartels in Latin America usually loaded the cocaine to sea freight containers to Mombasa via the Suez Canal.
In Kenya most of these shipments would be broken down and sent on to Europe, hidden among standard exports such as frozen fish, cut flowers and pre-packed vegetables.
Although the US, UK and Dutch authorities had offered to assist in the analysis and testing of the seized goods, and to help trace the network responsible for the shipment, Kenyan authorities dragged feet and police, once again, bungled the investigations.
Later, the US experts after testing 21 samples, confirmed that the haul was 100 per cent cocaine, with tests showing it originated from Colombia.