US targeted Mwau over Sh6b drugs
Posted Tuesday, June 28 2011 at 22:30
As many as 10 United States government agencies have been watching Kilome MP John Harun Mwau for years and have built a “foolproof” case against him, a US official said on Tuesday.
Mr Adam Szubin, the Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (Ofac) in the US Department of Treasury, said his government slapped sanctions on Mr Mwau because of a container of cocaine found at Pepe container depot in 2004.
The US government believes both the depot and the container belong to Mr Mwau.
The administration of President Barack Obama listed Mr Mwau and Naima Mohamed, also known as Mama Leila, as drug kingpins, seizing their property in the US and slapping a range of sanctions against them.
Mr Szubin added that the US is aware of what it called Mr Mwau’s “longstanding reputation” in the trafficking of drugs.
“We view him as among the more powerful and active narcotics traffickers in the region,” he told journalists.
Mr Szubin, whose office is behind the identification and imposition of sanctions against suspected narcotics traffickers under the Kingpin Act, said Ms Naima was blacklisted because of her position as the “head of one of the largest drug trafficking rings operating in Nairobi”.
He said Mama Leila deals in heroin, cocaine and other prohibited synthetic chemicals and that she had links with courier networks in Europe, South Asia and Africa.
The Ofac boss said that the sanctions against Mr Mwau were “not criminal but civil”, insisting that it was an administrative process in dealing with the billions of dirty money in the US economy.
However, he added, that given the close bilateral ties between Kenya and the US, he expected the Kenyan government to act.
Up to 10 US agencies were involved in collecting evidence against Mr Mwau and Mama Leila “for more than a year and in some cases several years” and that the evidence they had gathered was foolproof.
“It’s not a quick or short process. We build a case slowly and carefully to ensure that it is soundly built,” he said, revealing that the US Department of Treasury had a “top-level package, many inches thick” linking the duo to drug trafficking.
“They have been under consideration for years as we built a stronger and stronger case against them”.
Much of this evidence, he said, was obtained from open source reporting, intelligence files and from law enforcement agencies like the police, Interpol and the US Drug Enforcement Agency.
He said the evidence had been sieved by lawyers of the US Treasury and found to be watertight.
“We do not rely on rumours or press reporting that is uncorroborated,” said Mr Szubin, terming the process as “meticulous, deliberate and very fair”.
He said that before the duo was named, the US Government was engaged with the government of Kenya at very high levels, because, apparently the US enjoys “extremely close relations” with Kenya.