Amidst controversy in Nigeria over extradition moves against US wanted Senator Buruji Kashamu by Nigeria’s National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Kenya has shipped four men, members of a drug cartel, for trial in the United States.
The four men are charged with directing a major heroin trafficking ring in East Africa, U.S. prosecutors announced on Tuesday.
Baktash Akasha, who U.S. prosecutors say led a Kenyan crime family called the Akasha organization that was involved in distributing heroin and methamphetamine, arrived in New York from Kenya along with three co-defendants on Monday.
His co-defendants include Ibrahim Akasha, his brother; Gulam Hussein, a Pakistani charged with heading a drug transportation network; and Vijaygiri Goswami, an Indian businessman accused of managing the Akasha organization’s drug business.
U.S. lawyers for Baktash Akasha, 40; Ibrahim Akasha, 28; and Hussein, 61, could not be immediately identified. Goswami’s lawyer declined immediate comment.
The charges stemmed from a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration probe into the Akasha organization, which it alleges is a major smuggling operation connecting the poppy fields of Afghanistan to European and U.S. cities.
The Akasha family has been involved in the drug trade for years, according to U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks. The Satao Project, a private companyfocused on fighting poaching, said the Akashas’ network was also linked to around 30 tons of ivory seizures.
The four men had been fighting their extradition since being arrested in Mombasa, Kenya, in November 2014 in a U.S.-led sting operation. They were caught in a US undercover operation where they supplied 100 kilos of heroin and two kilos of methamphetamines to agents posing as dealers in 2014.
They had been out on bail when senior police officers from the counter-terrorism and anti-narcotics units in Nairobi arrested them in the coastal city of Mombasa on Sunday, their lawyer Cliff Ombeta said.
According to U.S. prosecutors, in 2014, the defendants agreed to supply multi-kilogram quantities of drugs individuals they believed were representatives of a Colombian drug-trafficking organization.
Those individuals were in fact DEA informants who recorded their meetings with the defendants, according to court papers.
Over the course of the negotiations, the Akasha organisation provided 99 kilograms of heroin and two kilograms of methamphetamine to the DEA informants and agreed to provide hundreds of kilograms more of each, prosecutors said.