In Summary
  • Human rights lobbies and legal associations did not rise up in protest. Kenyans shrugged their shoulders and said good riddance.
  • They pleaded guilty in exchange for relatively light sentences, and presumably also sang their hearts out, giving investigators long lists of their local partners and accomplices.

The 25-year jail sentence handed out to Kenyan drug baron Baktash Akasha by a court in the United States should serve as a powerful reminder to all in positions of power and authority here that crime does not pay.

For years Baktash and his younger brother Ibrahim, who is awaiting a November sentencing date by the same New York court, operated with impunity in Kenya after inheriting the nefarious trade from their father.

The senior Akasha was gunned down by rival narcotics traffickers in an Amsterdam street nearly 20 years ago, but his networks survived to entrench Kenya’s dubious reputation as an emerging transshipment point for illicit drugs from Asia and South America headed for the American and European markets.

Ever since the Akasha drug empire took root, the family became untouchable, with law enforcement and judicial systems in their Mombasa base reduced to virtual extensions of the criminal enterprise.

A whole confederacy of judges and magistrates, prosecutors, police and intelligence chiefs, provincial, regional, district and county commissioners, Members of Parliament and other officials of influence did their bidding.

EXTRADITION

It is instructive that the Akasha brothers might never have faced justice had the Kenya government not bundled them off to the US while extradition proceedings were still pending in Kenyan courts.

From the time they were arrested on November 2014 by a joint team of Kenya Police Anti-Narcotics officers and their counterparts from the US Drug Enforcement Agency, the narcotics kingpins tied up the compromised local court system in endless delays.

The brothers and their two foreign accomplices, Vijaygiri Goswami and Gulam Hussein, seemed unlikely to ever be sent to the US for trial.

Eventually the authorities simply got fed up, and in January 2017 bundled them into a plane and flew them straight to the eagerly waiting arms of US law enforcers.

The irregular nature of their extradition was not mourned. Human rights lobbies and legal associations did not rise up in protest. Kenyans shrugged their shoulders and said good riddance.

NO OUTCRY

Nobody really cared that the government had willingly short-circuited and subverted the judicial process by sending the accused, including Kenyan citizens, to the US in a manner that smacked of abduction rather than formal extradition.

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