Former Bollywood actress Mamta Kulkarni and her husband Vijay Goswami aka ‘Vicky’ are being detained and interrogated at the Port Police Station in Mombasa, Kenya.
The police have arrested Vicky on charges of drug trafficking.
The arrest that took place on Sunday last week was the result of a top-secret joint operation by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Mombasa Police department. The FBI has now joined the operation that has so far spanned across three continents.
The local papers in Kenya have already covered the news.
Four people have been arrested in the operation — the most prominent name in the list is of Baktash Akasha, a well-known Kenyan drug mafia and the son of slain drug baron Ibrahim Akasha. The court has listed Mamta Kulkarni’s husband as a ‘key associate of Baktash Akasha’.
Baktash’s brother Ibrahim has also been arrested along with Pakistani national Gulam Hussein.
This incident is being hailed as one of the biggest drug cartel busts in Kenya.
Though Mamta Kulkarni is being detained and interrogated, the Kenya police and the DEA is yet to formally charge the former Bollywood actress.
The Kenyan government is considering a deportation request from the US authorities for Vicky Goswami but Mamta Kulkarni might be deported to India only if she is formally charged as an ‘accomplice’ of Goswami.
Sources confirmed that agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) too have joined the interrogation team.
Mombasa County Commander Robert Kitur confirmed the arrest and said that “the suspects have been moved to different police stations for further interrogation”.
The arrests mark the closure of a sting operation that has been going on for four months against a drug cartel based in Kenya by the DEA.
Sources at the Mombasa Police department also confirmed that there is a warrant pending against Goswami from an US court which they are “very keen to honour”. The Interpol had also issued a red-corner notice against Goswami.
“They are the subjects of indictment number 14 CRIM 716, filed on October 28, in which they are charged with conspiracy to import narcotics. The indictment issued by US Judge Gabriel Gorenstein of the Southern District Court in New York, on October 28. It was delivered to the Kenyan authorities through the US Embassy in Nairobi on November 10. Accordingly the police arrested the four in a joint raid with the DEA,” said an official from Kenya.
According to the official, the indictment says that the four “are wanted to stand trial in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York”.
Now, Kenya is witnessing a pitched legal battle with the top criminal lawyers in Kenya trying their best to save Goswami and company.
Here is the video footage of the four in court when they were being formally charged.
Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Alexander Muteti, in a sworn affidafit, has described Baktash as “the leader of an organised crime and drug trafficking network” and his bother Ibrahim “a chief lieutenant” in Baktash’s alleged drug trafficking activities. Gulam is said to be a leading transporter of heroin across Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Middle East and East Africa, while Vijay (Vicky Goswami) is said to be “the principal manager of Baktash Akasha’s organisation’s drug manufacturing and distribution business”.
Vicky and his partners-in-crime are being represented by Gikandi Ngibuni and Cliff Ombeta, the top criminal lawyers of Kenya. Cliff Ombetta has argued in court that his clients must be released on a personal bond.
In response Muteti has argued that, “If these people were to leave this court and we hold a Red Notice on them, it will mean that we are being uncooperative and going against international treaties we had singed between Kenya and the US. Even though Kenya has the jurisdiction to try the suspects, the US Government also has similar authority.”
The court is expected to hasten the extradition process due to intense lobbying by the US law enforcement authorities with the Kenyan government.
Sources say that Mamta Kulkarni — in that case — might be extradited to India but only if the police charges her as an ‘accomplice’.
However, sources also confirm that Vicky is trying his level best to ensure that Mamta is not formally charged.
The court is expected to announce its decision soon.
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I was contacted by the Johannesberg police because I was the only one who had managed to establish contact with Mamta Kulkarni. I had even blogged about it and you can find the blog here. Hence I was aware of the operation but I never had any idea that the DEA and the FBI were involved with this too. Mamta Kulkarni has deleted most of her online footprints and some of her online accounts have been seized by the DEA and the FBI.
I will let you know what finally happens to Mamta Kulkarni.
Update at midnight on November 14: There seems to be a confusion about who’s Vicky Goswami in the photos and the video. A journalist friend in India insists that the guy wearing the white shirt is not Vicky but the one wearing the blue tee, is. We have asked our journalist friends in Kenya to verify this. We will get back on this soon.
Update at 6 pm on November 14: Vicky Goswami has been identified and the guy wearing the blue tee is Vicky Goswami. Here is his picture (on the right). The blog has now been updated. Request all of you to please correct you content who have picked up from me.
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