Drug Enforcement Administration

DEA Headquarters

October 26, 2018

Contact: National Media Affairs Office

Phone Number: (202) 307-1000

Former leader of Kenyan organized crime family and his brother plead guilty to narcotics, weapons, and obstruction offenses

NEW YORK - Raymond P. Donovan, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Special Operations Division and Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that Baktash Akasha Abdalla, aka “Baktash Akasha,” and Ibrahim Akasha Abdalla, aka “Ibrahim Akasha,” pled guilty yesterday in Manhattan federal court to 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 being extradited to the United States. The defendants were provisionally arrested in Kenya on Nov. 9, 2014, after providing 99 kilograms of heroin and two kilograms of methamphetamine during the course of the investigation to confidential sources acting at the direction of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Their bribery scheme was thwarted on Jan. 29, 2017, when the defendants were expelled from Kenya and DEA agents brought them to the United States for prosecution. The defendants pled guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker, and they will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero.

“The announcement of the guilty pleas of Baktash Abdalla and Ibrahim Abdalla highlights how trafficking drugs internationally or domestically will result in the relentless pursuit of violators until their capture and sentencing,” said Special Agent in Charge the DEA Special Operations Division Office Ray Donovan. “These traffickers sought to spread poison throughout the United States for financial gain. Thanks to the agents involved, these traffickers are no longer free to continue such practices.”     

“Baktash Akasha Abdalla and his brother, Ibrahim Akasha Abdalla, were the leader and deputy of a sophisticated international drug trafficking network, responsible for tons of narcotics shipments throughout the world. Not only did they manufacture and distribute narcotics for over two decades, they kidnapped, beat, and murdered others who posed a threat to their enterprise. When the brothers encountered legal interference, they bribed Kenyan officials — including judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers—in an effort to avoid facing the charges against them in the United States,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. “Today’s pleas put two of the most prolific drug traffickers in the world out of business, and ensure that tons of dangerous narcotics will never reach our shores.”

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

The defendants operated a sprawling and lucrative international drug business, which involved the distribution of 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 United States 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 were working to import ton quantities of methaqualone precursor chemicals into Africa in order to fuel the production of the illicit pills 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, aka “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 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 United States. 

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 United States. 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 United States. 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 negotiations, 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 facing the charges against them in the United States.    

On Jan. 29, 2017, the Kenyan government expelled the defendants, and the DEA brought them to the Southern District of New York for prosecution. Hafeez was provisionally arrested in London in August 2017, and the United States has requested his extradition from the United Kingdom.

*                      *                      *

Baktash Akash Abdalla, 41, and Ibrahim Akasha Abdalla, 29, each pleaded guilty to conspiring to import heroin into the United States, conspiring to import methamphetamine into the United States, distributing heroin while knowing and intending that the drugs would be imported into the United States, and distributing methamphetamine while knowing and intending that the drugs would be imported into the United States. Each of these four crimes carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. The defendants also pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to carry and use machineguns and destructive devices during and in relation to, and to possess machineguns and destructive devices in furtherance of, drug-trafficking offenses, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Finally, the defendants pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum and minimum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge. The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Marrero on February 1, 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, Jason A. Richman, and Patrick Egan are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the indictment against Muhammad Asif Hafeez aka Sultan, are merely accusations, and Hafeez is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

18-368                                                          ###

 


[1] The descriptions set forth below of conduct by co-defendant MUHAMMAD ASIF HAFEEZ, a/k/a “Sultan,” constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation with respect to HAFEEZ.

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