Heir to Akasha drug empire Yusuf Swaleh found dead days after 'abduction'

Swaleh Yusuf Ahmed at the Mombasa Law Courts on January 24, 2019. He was found dead on March 17, 2024 in Kilifi.  

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Drug baron Yusuf Ahmed Swaleh, alias Candy Rain or Kandereni , the man said to have inherited the Akasha drug empire at Kenya's Coast, has been executed under mysterious circumstances.

Swaleh's body was discovered at Kiruwitu near Vipingo in Kilifi on Sunday, nine days after he was allegedly picked up by individuals who identified themselves as police for interrogation.

Coast regional police bosses remained tight-lipped on the matter on Sunday but on Monday, Kilifi South sub-County Commander Daniel Kitavi said the body of an unknown male was found dumped in Kiruwitu.

"We received information yesterday morning. The body had a visible injury on the head. The matter is under investigation. We are yet to know the identity of the deceased," he said 

However, Swaleh's lawyer Jared Magolo was categorical that his client was killed shortly after being taken in for questioning.

"Yes. They killed him. His body was found in Kilifi. He was arrested on Friday, nine days ago," Mr Magolo stated in a text message.

Tension in Mwembe Tayari, Mombasa, as body of drug baron Yusuf Swaleh headed for burial

At the time of his death, Swaleh was battling several criminal charges linked to a multi-million-shilling drug trafficking and money laundering operation in Coast.

On October 26, 2018, he was charged at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Law Courts in Nairobi with trafficking 91,738 grammes of heroin valued at Sh275,214,000.

He was charged alongside Fatuma Ahmed with "trafficking by storing" heroin, which police found hidden in suitcases and a gunny bag in Kikambala, Kilifi County.

In 2010, Swaleh was jailed for 25 years for trafficking five kilogrammes of heroin, while in 2011 and 2013, he was separately charged at the Mombasa Law Courts with trafficking drugs, but he won both cases and walked free. 

He was first convicted and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment in 1996 for trafficking in heroin. He sent to Shimo La Tewa Prison in Mombasa.

On March 8, 2023, Swaleh was jailed for 10 years after he was found guilty of money laundering.

This was after he and his wife Asma Abdalla Mohamed were found to have engaged in an agreement to buy four motor vehicles worth Sh7.6 million on February 4, 2017 using proceeds of drug trafficking.

Court records show that the convicts purchased two vehicles within months and paid Sh6.2 million with a view of concealing the source of the said money.

In this file photo, Swaleh Yusuf Ahmed and his wife Asma Abdalla at the Shanzu Law courts. 

Swaleh's death marks the end of an era for a man who was eager to take over Ibrahim Akasha's drug empire after his sons, Baktash Akasha and Ibrahim Akasha, were extradited to the US to face drug trafficking charges.

They were later sentenced to 25 and 23 years in prison, respectively.

Swaleh had become the new face of drug trafficking on the Coast, as evidenced by the number of drug cases and the value of the substances he was accused of trafficking.

The fallen baron, who had previously been imprisoned, was, on several occasions, mysteriously released from prison despite his conviction.

How he managed to regain his freedom again and again baffled many, including security agents at the Coast.

The deceased is the first notorious drug trafficking suspect to be killed during President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza administration.

It comes despite assurances from Dr Ruto that his government would not tolerate extrajudicial killings as it believed in the rule of law and justice for all.

Swaleh's murder also comes just a month after the national government, led by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, declared a crackdown on drug trafficking on the Coast.