IN POLITICS FOR BUSINESS SURVIVAL: The story of Ali Hassan Joho and his family’s drugs enterprise


For weeks now, the Jubilee administration has initiated a full blown war against age-old narcotics cartels that have ruled Kenya’s underworld for decades.

And the campaign against the merchants of death – who have been hawking poison by the kilo to innocent youths and consequently putting the very future of our country at risk – appears to be bearing fruits more so after the world famous Akasha narcotics organization was dealt a major blow with the extradition of two of its top commandants – Bahktash and Ibrahim Akasha – to the US to face the jury, a few days ago.

But it is not the historic fall of the Akashas that has got tongues wagging.


Eclipsing the international applauded arrest of the Akashas is the much more exciting conversation about the alleged involvement of prominent and wealthy Kenyan politicians in the narcotics trade; who the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is also said to be after.

Eliciting a heated – and of course largely politically instigated – debate in the entire narrative is the presence of the name of none other than controversial socialite Mombasa governor Ali Hassan Joho and his immediate family in the list of Kenya’s most wanted drug barons.

So, who exactly is Ali Hassan Joho and what exactly is the Joho’s family place in the narcotics enterprise?

According to a report issued in 2010 by the U.S. Embassy in Kenya – and cited in Parliament by then Internal Security Minister George Saitoti (now deceased) – MPs Ali Hassan Joho (Kisauni), William Kabogo (Juja), John Harun Mwau (Kilome), Gideon Mbuvi (Makadara) and Mombasa tycoon Ali Punjani, stood out as the most dangerous politically connected drug traffickers in the country.

The report singled out Hon. Joho and his brother Abubakar as being in charge of a multi-million euro trafficking empire.

Abubarak was the first one of the two Joho brothers to enter the narcotics trade.

Abubakar started off working in a clearing and forwarding company and later joined the vehicles business. That was in the early 1990s.

Once Abubakar found out the owner of the company had died during the Rwanda genocide he decided to take over and started diverting vehicles destined for Rwanda into the Kenyan market.

But vehicles soon become less lucrative to the highly calculative and extremely subterranean Abubakar.

He therefore decided to venture into more profitable business, the one flourishing in and around the port of Mombasa at the time.

Here he found employment in a company that cleared containers from ships to the quay, and vice-versa.

According to the U.S. report, Abubakar Joho was the clearing agent for containers that held one ton of cocaine in 2004.


The influence of Abubakar on Ali Hassan is the one 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; of course to safeguard family business.

A young Ali Hassan Joho ran and won the 2007 elections as the MP for Kisauni constituency.

Shortly after, the report suggested, his career in the drug trade began.

The report reads that the political campaign that granted Ali Hassan the regional political seat was founded by Swaleh Kandereni, Billy Mahandi and Swaleh Ahmed, who were all arrested in Mombasa under drug trafficking charges in 2010.

According to the US document signed by one time US envoy to Kenya Michael Ranneberger, Kandereni allegedly was a major supplier to dealers in the coastal town of Malindi.

Another of Joho’s influencial campaigner was the suspected narcotics trafficker, Ali Punjabi.

Since 2010, the Kenyan Anti Narcotics Unit has suspected that Ali Hassan Joho has been involved in the narcotics trade.

However, the report does not provide elaborate details about the claim.

The report concludes with an assertion that, due to Joho’s political position and financial resources, the Kenyan authorities of the time were reluctant to deal with him.

Ali Hassan Joho was elected as the first county governor of the Mombasa in March 4, 2013.

Together, the Joho 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 have moved drugs across Kenya.

U.S. officials also identified an Israeli company – Amiran Kenya Ltd owned by Israeli businessman Andy – as a crucial actor in the criminal network.

Andy appeared closely connected with a Mombasa-based man, nicknamed Adamo, one of Joho’s trusted operators.

The US report insisted that both John Harun Mwau and the Johos have owned companies based at the Kilindi port, in Mombasa, where the cargo seized in December 2004 was headed.

Ali Hassan Joho also appears as a close acquaintance of Mary Wambui, a Kenyan activist and among the fiercest promoters of former president Mwai Kibaki’s 2003 and 2007 political campaigns.

Wambui – Kibaki’s alleged concubine – took over as Othaya’s (Nyeri County) representative to the National Assembly in 2013.

Wambui often met and promoted Joho’s candidature in the 2007 Kisauni parliamentary race.

Additional info courtesy of

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