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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 16, 2019

Former Leader Of Violent Kenyan Organized Crime Family Sentenced To 25 Years In Prison For Narcotics, Weapons, And Obstruction Offenses

Akasha Crime Family Leader Baktash Akasha Abdalla Sought to Import Large Quantities of Heroin and Methamphetamine into the United States, Conspired to Possess Machineguns and Destructive Devices, and Participated in Bribery Scheme in an Unsuccessful Effor

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that BAKTASH AKASHA ABDALLA, a/k/a “Baktash Akasha,” was sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiring to import and importing heroin and methamphetamine, conspiring to use and carry machineguns and destructive devices in connection with their drug-trafficking crimes, and obstructing justice by paying bribes to Kenyan officials in an effort to avoid extradition to the United States.  The defendants were provisionally arrested in Kenya on November 9, 2014, after providing 99 kilograms of heroin and two kilograms of methamphetamine to confidential sources acting at the direction of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”).  Their bribery scheme was thwarted on January 29, 2017, when the defendants were expelled from Kenya and DEA agents brought them to the U.S.  AKASHA ABDALLA previously pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker, and U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero imposed today’s sentence.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Baktash Akasha led a massive drug trafficking organization responsible for shipping tons of finished narcotics, and the ingredients to make tons more, around the world.  Akasha, along with his brother, ensured that their enterprise operated with impunity for nearly 20 years by eliminating and intimidating rival drug traffickers with violence and murder, and bribing Kenyan government officials to avoid extradition to the U.S.  Akasha was once one of the world’s most prolific and violent drug traffickers, but today’s significant sentence of 25 years in prison all but guarantees he will never profit from the illicit drug trade again.”

According to the Superseding Indictment, other court filings, and statements made during court proceedings[1]

AKASHA ABDALLA and his brother, Ibrahim Akasha Abdalla, a/k/a “Ibrahim Akasha” (together, “the defendants”) operated a sprawling and lucrative international drug-trafficking organization, which distributed multi-ton quantities of narcotics including hashish, ephedrine, methamphetamine, and methaqulone—a Schedule I controlled substance commonly referred to in Europe, South Africa, and elsewhere as “Mandrax” or “mandies,” and in the U.S. as “Quaaludes.”  For almost two decades, BAKTASH AKASHA ABDALLA acted as the leader of the Akasha Organization, and Ibrahim Akasha Abdalla functioned as his brother’s deputy.  The defendants engaged in acts of violence to protect the reputation of the Akasha Organization and their drug-trafficking business.  For example, in 2014, the defendants kidnapped and assaulted a rival drug trafficker in Kenya named David Armstrong.  The defendants helped orchestrate the murder in South Africa of an associate of Armstrong, who was known as “Pinky” and was shot approximately 32 times in the street.  The defendants subsequently participated in an altercation at a public shopping mall in Kenya with an Armstrong associate named Stanley Livondo, during which Ibrahim Akasha Abdalla threatened Livondo with a pistol in the mall. 

By early 2014, the defendants and other members of the Akasha Organization started to work to import ton quantities of methaqualone precursor chemicals into Africa in order to fuel the illicit pills’ production in South Africa.  The defendants used the proceeds of their methaqualone-related business to pursue other illegal ventures, including efforts to import ephedrine that was produced illegally by Avon Lifesciences in India, so that the Akasha Organization and others could manufacture methamphetamine in Africa.  In connection with these methamphetamine-production efforts, the defendants aligned the Akasha Organization and other associates with co-defendant Muhammad Asif Hafeez, a/k/a “Sultan,” and worked together to establish a methamphetamine-production facility in Mozambique.  But the defendants, Hafeez, and other co-conspirators were forced to abandon their plan after law enforcement authorities seized approximately 18 tons of ephedrine from an Avon Lifesciences factory in Solapur, India, including several tons of ephedrine that the defendants and Hafeez planned to use to manufacture methamphetamine in Mozambique.

Over the course of several months beginning in March 2014, during telephone calls and meetings in Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya, the defendants agreed to supply, and in fact did supply, multi-kilogram quantities of heroin and methamphetamine to individuals they believed to be representatives of a South American drug-trafficking organization, but who were in fact confidential sources (the “CSes”) working at the direction and under the supervision of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”).  The defendants negotiated on behalf of the Akasha Organization to procure and distribute hundreds of kilograms of heroin from suppliers in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region and to produce and distribute hundreds of kilograms of methamphetamine, which they understood would ultimately be imported into the U.S. 

During a meeting in Mombasa, Kenya, in April 2014, BAKTASH AKASHA ABDALLA introduced a CS via Skype to one of his heroin suppliers in Pakistan, who said he could provide 420 kilograms of 100 percent pure heroin—which he called “diamond” quality—for distribution in the U.S.  Thereafter, in June 2014, a co-defendant began discussing with the CSes his ability to procure methamphetamine precursor chemicals and to establish labs to produce methamphetamine for importation to the U.S.  In a meeting in Mombasa in September 2014, BAKTASH AKASHA ABDALLA introduced another co-defendant as a narcotics transporter from Afghanistan who moved ton quantities of narcotics using ships.  BAKTASH AKASHA ABDALLA and a co-defendant also described Hafeez to the CSes as one of the top drug traffickers in the world. 

In September and October 2014, Ibrahim Akasha Abdalla personally delivered one-kilogram samples of methamphetamine and heroin to the CSes in Nairobi on behalf of the Akasha Organization.  In early November, Ibrahim Akasha Abdalla personally delivered an additional 98 kilograms of heroin to the CSes in Nairobi on behalf of the Akasha Organization.  A few days later, Ibrahim Akasha Abdalla also delivered another kilogram of methamphetamine.  In the course of these preliminary transactions, the Akasha Organization provided a total of 99 kilograms of heroin and two kilograms of methamphetamine to the CSes, and agreed to provide hundreds of kilograms more of each.

The defendants, along with Gulam Hussein and Vijaygiri Anandgiri Goswami, were provisionally arrested by Kenyan Anti-Narcotics Unit officers on November 9, 2014, in Mombasa, Kenya, prior to another planned meeting with the CSes.  At the time of the provisional arrests in Kenya, 500 kilograms of heroin brokered by Hafeez were being transported through international waters to the defendants in Africa.  The defendants directed the ship to return to the Afghanistan/Pakistan region rather than risk interdiction upon arrival.  Following the arrests and during pending extradition proceedings, the defendants continued to distribute ton quantities of narcotics.  They used some of the drug proceeds to bribe Kenyan officials— including judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers—in an effort to avoid extradition to face the charges against them in the U.S.    

On January 29, 2017, the Kenyan government expelled the defendants, and the DEA brought them to the Southern District of New York for prosecution. 

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In addition to the prison term, BAKTASH AKASHA ABDALLA, 41, was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine. 

Hafeez was provisionally arrested in London in August 2017, and the U.S. has requested his extradition from the United Kingdom.  Ibrahim Akasha Abdalla pleaded guilty to the same drug-trafficking, weapons, and obstruction offenses as BAKTASH Akasha Abdalla, and is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Marrero on November 8, 2019.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding efforts of the Special Operations Division of the DEA, Bilateral Investigations Unit.  Mr. Berman also thanked the DEA Dubai Country Office, the DEA Nairobi Country Office, the DEA Pretoria Country Office, the DEA New Delhi Country Office, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, Kenya’s Anti-Narcotics Unit, Kenya’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Kenya’s Director of Criminal Investigations, local Nairobi law enforcement officers, and the Government of Kenya.

This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emil J. Bove III, Amanda L. Houle, and Jason A. Richman are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment against Muhammad Asif Hafeez, a/k/a “Sultan,” are merely accusations, and Hafeez is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

[1] The descriptions set forth below of conduct by co-defendant Muhammad Asif Hafeez, a/k/a “Sultan,” constitute only allegations, and all descriptions should be treated as allegations with respect to Hafeez.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Opioids
Press Release Number: 
19-270
Updated August 16, 2019