Drugs: Kenya police report comes up with zero

Sunday February 13 2011

To avoid detection, traffickers conceal drugs in containers packed with rice, tea, sugar, containers of second-hand clothes as well as used motor vehicle parts. Photo/FILE

To avoid detection, traffickers conceal drugs in containers packed with rice, tea, sugar, containers of second-hand clothes as well as used motor vehicle parts. Photo/FILE 

By NATION TEAM

The naming in Parliament of of four MPs and a businessman suspected of dealing in narcotic drugs compromised police investigations, says a report by the team assigned to probe the matter.

The report found no evidence linking the five and some other prominent businessmen to drug trafficking.

It says that all, when questioned, denied dealing in narcotics and accused political and business rivals of being out to malign them. Most of the conclusions seem to be drawn from denials by the suspects.

The report, prepared by a team headed by Deputy Commissioner of Police Alfred Ombaba, is unclear whether the team investigated specific allegations against the five made in a dossier circulated by the United States embassy.

It is also unclear whether there were any attempts to get more information from the authors of the original document.

The police team cites legal obstacles, like rules against self-incrimination, that made the investigations difficult. (Read: How drug dealers evade police and customs dragnet)

It also says some possible witnesses declined to record statements and there was collusion of civil servants based at Mombasa port, inland container stations and Container Freight Stations to conceal vital information from the investigators.

The report, seen by the Nation, recommends tougher anti-narcotics laws that will allow inspection of assets and tax returns of suspected drug traffickers.

Profiling of suspects

The document, expected to be tabled in Parliament this week, however says there is no evidence to sustain charges against the four MPs and a Mombasa businessman named in Parliament by Internal Security minister George Saitoti as the ones mentioned in the US embassy report. (Read: Probe fails to link Kenyan MPs to drugs)

Those named included MPs Harun Mwau, Gidion Mbuvi, Hassan Joho and William Kabogo and businessman Ali Punjani.

The report recommends, among other measures, the profiling of suspects of drug-trafficking, all entry points in the country be supplied with sniffer dogs as well as continuous surveillance on known and suspected drug barons and peddlers.

It also calls for 100 per cent verification of all containerised cargo arriving at Mombasa port both from countries where drugs are known to originate and other suspect destinations.

The report raises concerns about security at local airstrips and those privately owned because they are unmanned by the police, saying they are likely to be used for drug trafficking.

The report has identified loopholes at Mombasa port which make it ideal for drug-trafficking. It says X-ray scanners mounted there have no capacity to detect drugs concealed in containers.

Traffickers also take advantage of another loophole – the “impracticability of scrutinising each container to verify its contents. This will remain a major challenge,” the report says.

Besides the port, privately owned Container Freight Stations facilitate the illegal trade. It adds: “Ships suspected to bring in drugs stop in the deep seas from where they are offloaded to smaller boats without the notice of law enforcement agencies because of their inaccessibility.”

The speed boats then get to the shores at Mombasa, Malindi, Shimoni, Kilifi and Vanga. Airstrips at Kijipwa, Ukunda, Lunga Lunga, Voi and Lamu were also suspected of serving traffickers because passengers are hardly checked nor their luggage inspected.

To avoid detection, traffickers also concealed drugs in containers packed with rice, tea and sugar. Drugs are hidden in containers of secondhand clothes as well as used motor vehicle parts.

“The police will require a longer time and intelligence network to get meaningful evidence against drug traffickers due to the complexity of the investigations,” part of the report reads.

It says that Mr Mwau, the Kilome MP and chairman of Pepe Inland Container depot, denied any links to drug trafficking and termed the allegations as “false, malicious and based on rumours and innuendoes.”

Investigation for tax evasion

The report shows that Mr Mwau has vast interests in the Nakumatt chain of supermarkets. Its authors say they have written to the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Registrar of Societies to furnish them with information on any of his other interests.

Twelve companies are listed as being associated with the MP, according to KRA records. The report says Mr Kabogo, the MP for Juja, blamed his being linked to drug trafficking to politics.

It also discounts claims that he was Mr Mwau’s son-in-law or that he ever worked for the Kilome MP. Similarly, the investigators could not find any links of Mr Mbuvi to narcotics, but recommends further investigation for tax evasion.

The report, presented to police commissioner Mathew Iteere two weeks ago, recommends that the Kenya Revenue Authority investigate Buru Buru-based Casuarina Club in Buru Buru, Primix Enterprises and Tungwa Brand Design because the companies were not submitting tax returns.

“He needs to be followed up further on this by KRA who have this mandate,” the report says of Mr Mbuvi. The investigation did not find any evidence linking Kisauni MP Joho to drug trafficking.

None of those interviewed linked him to the crime, says the report. Businessman Punjani blamed reports that linked him to international drug barons in Dubai and India to business rivalry.

Investigators established that the 35-year-old runs a Sh300 million annual turnover Rising Star Enterprises jointly with his mother Gulbanu Punjani. The company deals in rice, sugar and salt.

Reported by Patrick Mayoyo, Oliver Mathenge, Dominic Wabala and Fred Mukinda