Kenya a haven for drug barons: Wikileaks

Kenya is among African countries which have been turned into playgrounds for international drug traffickers.

A Ugandan woman suspected of drug trafficking at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, June 6, 2010 after she was arrested with cocaine worth Sh85 million wrapped in 10 packets and packed in two plastic boxes bearing UN logos. Photo/FILE 

BY PATRICK MAYOYO pmayoyo@ke.nationmedia.com

IN SUMMARY

Kenya is among African countries which have been turned into playgrounds for international drug traffickers.

Cables released by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks show that the drug trade is not only facilitated by security personnel, but also high ranking military personnel, influential businessmen and politicians, including close relatives of presidents.

The countries where drug barons reign big are Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Angola, Mozambique and Tanzania.

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The cable says police and the Public Prosecution Department have been bungling investigations into drug-trafficking in Kenya.

The cable, written in January 2006, when Mr William Bellamy was ambassador, accuses police of removing crucial evidence from a prosecution file leading to the acquittal of suspects over a record Sh6 billion 2004 cocaine haul.

The seizure, then Africa’s largest, followed the interception — in The Netherlands — of a related consignment of cocaine believed to have been shipped from Kenya.

Dutch authorities arrested several persons, including a son of a former Kenyan MP. A cable from Maputo, Mozambique, said the country was a major drug trafficking transit point for East Africa.

Drug trafficking is a growing problem in Mozambique, with illegal drugs entering via air and sea routes from South Asia and South America.

Porous borders, lack of law enforcement resources, and rampant corruption allow drug traffickers to freely transit the country.

The primary route for cocaine is by air to Maputo from Brazil via Johannesburg, Lisbon or Luanda. Drugs (mostly cocaine) are smuggled overland to South Africa for local South African consumption or onward to Europe.

There are two large drug trafficking networks that operate in Mozambique with ties to South East Asia. In Mali, an unidentified plane crashed into the desert in November 2009, with what was suspected to be a cocaine haul from Latin America.

The Boeing 727-200 was big enough to carry 10 tonnes of the drug. The US cables show in vivid detail how the coastal states and their inland neighbours have come close to being overwhelmed by the booming drug trade.

The cables also how Ghana failed to act on intelligence it provided in 2007 about a cocaine boat coming from South America and did not intercept it.

Ghana’s president, John Atta Mills, even suspected that his own entourage may be smuggling drugs through the presidential lounge at Accra’s Kotoka Airport, and asked senior UK customs officials in November 2009 for help to screen them “in the privacy of his suite to avoid any surprises if they are caught carrying drugs”, according to the US embassy in Accra.

In January this year, President Mills told Barack Obama’s assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Johnnie Carson, that he fears “a bleak future for the Ghanian people”.

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