Sunday, April 24, 2011

Man arrested with Sh9m drug haul

By FRED MUKINDA, fmukinda@ke.nationmedia.com

Police in Nairobi Sunday arrested a man with a cocaine haul worth more than Sh9.5 million.

The man, who is a Kenyan, was arrested outside a city market as he tried to board a taxi on the way to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in transit to Seychelles.

The head of the anti-narcotics unit, Mr Sebastian Ndaru, who confirmed the arrest, said that the cocaine was concealed in the suspect’s luggage.

The arrest comes a few weeks after police arrested six other people in Mombasa with a heroin haul worth more than Sh200 million.

The six, who include Kenyans Joash Omondi, Hassan Ibrahim and Yusuf Hassan, Iranians Ali Mohammed and Abdul Baseet and Pakistani Khan Mohammed, have all denied the charges.

The Iranians are further charged with being in the country illegally, failing to report at any immigration office upon their arrival to register as foreigners, and being in possession of invalid travel documents.

Mr Ibrahim and Mr Hassan are separately charged with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

They were arrested on March 24 at Shanzu, in Mombasa, allegedly with the consignment of the drugs camouflaged as dog food.

They were flown to Nairobi later to face the charges.

Mombasa and other coastal townships have earned Kenya notoriety as major transhipment and re-packaging areas for heroin and cocaine headed for Europe from the producer nations in Asia and South America.

But the problem goes beyond Kenya being a mere transit point for the narcotics industry.

Hard drugs are steadily finding their way into the local market. Coast has been particularly hard hit, with young people getting addicted to the drugs in large numbers.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) plans to establish a permanent office in Nairobi to help choke local cocaine and heroin trafficking routes.

This is due to the fact that drugs passing through Kenya are consumed in the US.

Besides, the DEA’s presence in the country is intended to limit drugs-driven corruption prevalent in Kenya’s “law enforcement, Judiciary and political institutions.”

The plans are contained in this year’s International Narcotics Control Strategy report to guide the US government in achieving its aims.

In the past, DEA activities in Kenya operated under the office in Pretoria, South Africa.

The war against drugs in Kenya was intensified at the end of last year after US ambassador Michael Ranneberger revealed he had intelligence reports linking prominent people to the trade.

He handed the report to the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission director, Prof Patrick Lumumba.

Internal Security Minister George Saitoti named in Parliament personalities under investigation, but no evidence was found linking them to drug-trafficking.

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