In April and November last year, the Australian navy seized two consignments of heroin off the coast of Kenya, totalling 787 kg and worth about USD 278m. Another haul was made in July when Kenyan police found 342 kg of heroin in the tank of a ship docked at the Mombasa port, making it the biggest ever single seizure of drugs in Kenya coastal city.
The three seizures roughly equalled the amount captured by 11 east African governments between 1990 and 2009, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.The hauls proved once again how Kenya and East Africa waters have become a key export route for heroin from Asia to Europe.
Kenya's drug routes
In December 2004 a seizure marked a turning point in Africa drugs trade. It was the biggest ever: 1.1 tonnes coming in a vessel docked at Mombasa port. Cocaine has been seized in Malindi, Mombasa (837.5 Kg) and Nairobi (304 Kg) . The street value was estimated in 80 million USD. Narcotics allegedly came from Colombia through Venezuela. This large cocaine seizure haul involved all the big players both in politics and drug trafficking in Kenya.
Mwau's vast wealth is not from honest hard work. He is Kenya's biggest drug trafficker, and in two decades has earned hundreds of millions of dollars from illegally moving cocaine into Kenya, the United States and Europe. Mwau began his career as a sharpshooter in the Kenyan police in his 20s. He joined the Kenyan parliament in the Kilome province in 1992 under his own brand new
political party: PICK (Party of Independent Candidates of Kenya). He left his seat in 2013.
In December that year, Kenyan authorities seized in Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi an astonishing 1,21 tonnes of cocaine. The African Business magazine suggests the cargo came from Venezuela and Colombia, and was destined for Ireland and the Netherlands. It was the largest drug haul ever in Kenya's history. Shortly after, investigators raided the depot of Pepe Enterprises Ltd, a Mombasa -based company allegedly owned by John Mwau. The company has a warehouse located at the Athi River in the outskirts of Nairobi, where it is suspected that part of the narcotics shipment found its way there.
The report named Mwau as a violent drug dealer involved in money laundering and contract killings. “In 2008," the report continues, "John Harun Mwau, following his appointment as assistant transport minister, appears to have been responsible for Kenya’s container transport arrangements” and “for the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), which controls all ports of entry and inland container terminals in Kenya”. The manager of the depot was charged for drug trafficking but was acquitted for lack of
But the toughest blows to Mwau's jaw were yet to come. Prior to 2007, Mwau was under investigation with two other suspects for having allegedly provided large sums of money to the election coffers of the PNU (Party of National Unity), headed by Mwai Kibaki, at that time the Kenyan president. Mwau resigned from his trade assistant minister post in December 2010 after Internal Security minister, George Saitoti, informed the Parliament that MPs Ali Hassan
Joho, William Kabogo, John Harun Mwau and Gideon Mbuvi, and Mombasa tycoon Ali Punjani were being investigated for alleged drug trafficking.
According to local press reports, Mwau's resignation came one month after U.S. ambassador for Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, handed over a detailed confidential report made by American anti-narcotics agencies. All U.S. assets in which Mwau held more than 50% shares were frozen. The U.S. Treasury Department believes Mwau used overseas tournaments and his status to start moving narcotics. In the same period, Mwau visited Colombia quite often: according to top sources, Mwau set up his links with drug traffickers at that time.
The accusations thrown in the Parliament by former minister Saitoti were based on a joint investigation run by US law enforcement and Kenyan government. Strongest allegations moved the investigation at the beginning, less concrete in the later evidence. The confirmation is John Harun Mwau's investigation: in February the "Interim report on drug trafficking investigations" by Kenyan police concluded: "No evidence has so far been found to link him to drug trafficking".
In 2012 the main accuser, professor George Saitoti, died in an helicopter crash on the outskirts of Nairobi: Al Shabaab militias and drug traffickers are the main suspects for the disaster. Investigations have not yet found anyone guilty. In 2011, the United States sanctioned Mwau under the Kingpin Act, and is currently working to seize $750m of his investments there.
|The main accuser, professor George Saitoti, died in an helicopter crash|
“The US never apologises for killing its enemies, real or imagined." Mwau said in 2011. "They will violate other nations’ airspace and eliminate their targets. The task of justification is left to themselves”. Mwau also claimed that he had every reason to believe that the move by the US government to designate him as a significant foreign narcotics drug trafficker was tailored to make him an easy target for elimination.
In January 2014, the National Authority for Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Kenya (NACADA), invited by John Harun Mwau to say whether they had any evidence linking him with the drug trade, cleared the former politician of any involvement in drug trafficking. But, as reported in the Daily Nation piece on the subject, "Nacada is a State agency and chairmen of such institutions do not have the powers to clear individuals of any past or present allegations”.
Politics and Drugs: The Johos Brothers
A report issued in 2010 by the U.S. Embassy in Kenya and cited in Parliament by then Internal Security Minister George Saitoti says that MPs Joho, William Kabogo, John Harun Mwau, Gideon Mbuvi and Mombasa tycoon Ali Punjani, are among the most dangerous drug traffickers in the country. The document were also signed by then U.S. ambassador Michael Ranneberger.
The report describes how Abubakar Joho and his brother Ali Hassan are in charge of a multi-million euro trafficking empire. Abubarak was the first of the two to enter the drug trade. According to the U.S. report, Abubakar Joho “was the clearing agent for containers that held a one ton shipment of cocaine seized in 2004.
The influence of Abubakar on Ali Hassan is typical of an elder brother towards his younger. According to the American document, it was Abubakar who insisted and convinced Ali Hassan to enter politics. When a young Ali Hassan Joho runs and wins the 2007 elections as a representative of the Mombasa region in the national parliament,shortly after, the report suggests, his career in the drug trade began.
The report reads that the political campaign that granted him the regional political seat was funded by Swaleh Kandereni, Billy Mahandi and Swaleh Ahmed who were all rested in Mombasa under drug trafficking charges in 2010. According to the American document, Kandereni allegedly was a major supplier to dealers in the coastal town of Malindi. Another of Joho’s influential campaigners was suspected narcotics trafficker Ali Punjabi.
Since 2010 the Kenyan Anti Narcotics Unit have suspected Ali Hassan Joho to be involved in the narcotics trade, however due to Joho’s “political position and financial resources it is unclear what the [Kenyan] police intended to do with that evidence”, the report ends.
Ali Hassan Joho is elected as governor of the Mombasa county on March 4, 2013. Together the brothers own Prima Bins & Pest Control, an import-export company in charge of waste management and rat- killing, based in Mama Ngina Drive, Mombasa. It is through their company that the pair move drugs across Kenya.
|Amiran Kenya's MD|
Ali Hassan Joho is also a close acquaintance to Mary Wambui, according to the U.S. report, Wambui often met with Hassan and promoted his candidacy for a seat in the regional parliament of Kisauni in 2007. Former Othaya MP Mary Wambui, has been stalked by controversy since she came to the limelight soon after the 2007 election.
In a communication intercepted by Wikileaks in 2006, then US ambassador to Kenya Michael Bellamy linked Ms Wambui to narcotics trafficking and the Artur brothers’ entry into the country.
Mr Bellamy said from interviews he conducted with key people, Ms Wambui, whom he referred to as “Second Lady”, allegedly worked with then State House adviser Stanley Murage and CID boss Joseph Kamau to conceal the identity of the Armenian brothers.
KTN Senior Investigative Editor MOHAMMED ALI and Senior Investigative Reporter DENNIS ONSARIGO disclosed how several tonnes of the cocaine went missing, how key suspects were allowed to escape and how two State prosecutions were deliberately mishandled.
They also shone a light on the drastic lengths to which Kenya’s drug barons and their friends in high places go to ensure their secrets remain protected. At least four police officers and one spy investigating or connected to drug-related cases have been killed in mysterious circumstances, the team reported.
More than one source suggests the State was tricked into hiring enforcers working for drug traffickers who wanted to recover the 1.2 tons of cocaine being held in Kenya.
Investigations by Standard Group journalists show key State agents and politically connected people had a hand in bringing the men to Kenya and embedding several of them as senior police officers in the Criminal Investigations Department. This is why they received help and protection from various State agents who believed they were in Kenya on legitimate, Government-sanctioned operations.
|CID boss Joseph Kamau|
The man who appeared to be their leader has been videotaped saying he was hired to set up a secret police unit to deal with drug trafficking using foreign “soldiers of fortune”. Artur Margaryan, who uses a false name, says this was why he was appointed as deputy police commissioner, serving under then CID boss Joseph Kamau.
Our investigations have identified at least six accomplices of the so-called ‘Artur brothers’ who entered Kenya around 2006. Like Artur Margaryan and Artur Sargasyan, some of the six men used several false names and travel documents to move in and out of the country when conducting their activities.
Most were from Eastern bloc or former Soviet Union countries and have been described by American diplomats as being possibly Russians, Bosnians or Ukrainians. Other sources say the men were enforcers for the Russian mafia, which has been linked to the drug trade in Latin America and is made up of criminals from Eastern bloc nations.
They first came up on the radar when Ibrahim Akasha was brought to court in 1996 on drug trafficking. Ibrahim Akasha hired a Yugoslavian crew to move his product to Europe. This new crew was linked up to an international syndicate based in Amsterdam: at the top of the Dutch gang was Sam Klepper, a notorious drug trafficker born in the Netherlands.
Akasha’s inside men in Amsterdam were the Barsoums brother, Mounir and Magdi. For a couple of years the new collaboration between the Dutch and the Kenyan gangs ran smoothly. The party turned sour in 1999 when a payment for a drug consignment failed to arrive. The Akasha Cartel responded by abducting the Dutch gang’s Yugoslavian crew member from which they managed to ransom for USD 211k
|Streten “Jotcha” Jocic|
According to Kenyan intelligence, The Netherlands was the final destination of the huge haul of 1,2 tons of cocaine cargo seized in 2004. The US Drug Enforcement Agency “had spent years infiltrating Akasha and alleges that the gang is part of a heroin supply chain that stretches from the poppy fields of Afghanistan through east Africa to the cities of Europe and the United State. In documents filed in a court in the Southern District of New York on November 10th, 2014, the U.S. prosecutors alleged that the Akasha Cartel was responsible for the “production and distribution” of large quantities of narcotics in Kenya, Africa and beyond.
In November 2014, the U.S. government requested the extradition of Baktash Akasha Abdallah, Ibrahim Akasha Abdallah and co.However the Baktash brothers, Vijaygiri Goswami and the old man were all freed on bail in March 2015. Baktash paid a USD 325.000 bail to be freed.