Two General Service Unit officers and a civilian who were arrested for transporting bhang worth Sh1.6 million and 10 Ethiopian nationals without valid passes have been detained for three days.
Officers Solomon Mutuma and Ali Dida Halakhe and civilian guide Ali Hassan were apprehended on Sunday by a multi-agency team manning a roadblock on Dogogicha-Yamicha Road in Merti Sub-County.
The agents found bhang worth Sh1,548,000 and 10 Ethiopian men in the government vehicle, a Toyota Land Cruiser, they had been travelling in from Moyale to Meru County.
The bhang was in 22 bales weighing about 110 kilos
Police officers said they also found three loaded guns, a pistol, two AK-47 rifles and an unspecified number of bullets.
“The jungle green vehicle was under the command of Mr Mutuma who had a pistol and an AK-47 rifle and was seated in the front with Mr Dida (driver), who had an AK-47 rifle," the police report said.
The Ethiopians and the bhang were in the back of the vehicle.
The three were taken to Merti Police Station and arraigned on Monday before Isiolo Chief Magistrate Samuel Mungai.
They pleaded not guilty to charges of drug trafficking and smuggling the immigrants aged 24-30 years.
The prosecution sought to detain them longer to gather information about the GSU officers from their work stations and the government vehicle.
The court granted this prayer and allowed an application against the suspects' release on bail or bond by prosecution lawyers Dennis Mang’are and Nancy Njeru.
However, Mr Mungai issued an order for the accused to be served with the witness statements they sought.
They will be held at Isiolo Police Station until Thursday when the court will issue further directions on the matter.
Following the arrest of the GSU officers and the civilian, Isiolo County Commissioner Harman Shambi said his team had intensified surveillance and mapped out routes criminals use to sneak in drugs from Ethiopia.
“We have put our officers on high alert along the routes,” said Mr Shambi.
Following an intensified crackdown along Isiolo-Moyale Highway, where drug trafficking has been rampant, criminals have resorted to using the Merti route to escape the authorities.
Traffickers have also changed tack and are now using hired executive personal cars and government vehicles to ferry drugs, especially bhang, and foreigners from Ethiopia to Nairobi.
Mr Shambi warned of stern action against police officers engaging in drug trafficking, saying government vehicles will also be checked.
About two months ago, a police officer and a prison warder attached to Marsabit GK Prison were arrested at Lerata along the Isiolo-Moyale Highway while transporting 20 kg of bhang in a government vehicle.
In November 2019, Emmanuel Matunda, police officer attached to the Rapid Deployment Unit in Wajir, was apprehended in the same area with 15 kg of bhang.
He was charged and released on a Sh500,000 bond.