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US seeks quick trial of drug lords

Monday January 10 2011

By OLIVER MATHENGE [email protected]

The US is seeking quick prosecution of suspects it believes are involved in drug trafficking.

Sources close to the Internal Security ministry say the United States wants Kenya to start the prosecution of drugs barons right away.

The Americans are also said to be planning to open charges in the US in June on Kenyans they believe have links to the international drug trading cartels.

“Already, US has advised international financial institutions about the suspects and they have in turn asked them to withhold their cash. Similar requests will be made in Kenya soon,” a source at the ministry said.

US ambassador Michael Ranneberger declined to comment on the matter, saying it was still under investigation.

Cables released by whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks, showed that Kenya is among African countries, which have been turned into playgrounds for international drug traffickers.

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The leaks show the drug trade is not only facilitated by security personnel, but also high ranking military officers, influential businessmen and politicians, including close relatives of presidents.

Kenya — as well as Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia — are used as transit routes for drugs to the US, Europe and partly South Africa, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime notes.

The largest ever haul of cocaine weighing 1.5 tonnes and worth Sh6.4 billion arrived at Kilindini, Mombasa, from Venezuela in December 2004.

A dossier by the US embassy has led to the investigation of a number of Kenyans including four MPs and a prominent Mombasa businessman.

The documents on the drug network in Kenya show that those involved have been shipping in drugs hidden in containers said to carry used clothes or shoes.

For instance, they indicate that one of the key members of the drug syndicate shipped in cocaine from Latin America in December 2007 disguised as used computers.

Another member of the cartel brought in heroin and cannabis from Pakistan, Dubai and Tanzania in July 2008.

The dossier also says the suspected drug lords distribute the narcotics to several city estates.

In November last year, Mr Ranneberger revealed that the US Government had slapped an indefinite ban on four senior government officials and a prominent businessman from visiting the US over their alleged involvement in drug trafficking.