Port proximity makes Mombasa a hotbed of drug trafficking

Wednesday May 15 2019

Swaleh Yusuf Ahmed heroin suspect

Swaleh Yusuf Ahmed who was charged with trafficking heroin valued at Sh275 million when he appeared in court in Mombasa in January 2019. Mombasa has remained a hotbed of drug trafficking especially by foreigners. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MOHAMED AHMED
By MOHAMED AHMED
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Mombasa has remained a hotbed of drug trafficking, with more than 50 people having been arrested with heroin worth millions of shillings in the last one year.

Foreigners are among suspects who have been arrested with the highly valued drug that has turned thousands of young people in the Coast region into zombies.

Among the foreigners are six Tanzanian nationals who were arrested with the drug on diverse dates.

A police report obtained by the Nation indicates that 52 people were apprehended in Mombasa between April 2018 and April 2019.

HEROIN

In that period, the biggest seizure that police made was in April 2018 where three Tanzanians were arrested with 10 kilogrammes of heroin worth Sh30 million.

The latest arrest in April 2019 was that of five people who had 2.5 kilogrammes of heroin worth Sh5 million.

In March this year 1.5 kilogrammes of the deadly drug valued at Sh3million was seized from a trader who does logistic businesses in East Africa.

Another seizure during the recorded period is that of 1,012 sachets of heroin from different suspects. On average, one sachet weighs 500 grams.

Mombasa Police Commander Johnston Ipara said the over 50 arrested during the period were drugs distributors.

PROXIMITY TO SEA

He said the county is still attractive to the drug traffickers who are using the sea to make their entrance into the country.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), international airports in Nairobi and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia are key entry points for illicit drugs into the East African region.

This, UNODC says, is primarily due to the frequent commercial flights from Asia and the Middle East.

It notes that the seaports of Dar es Salaam and Mombasa are also key entry points favoured by the drug traffickers.

POROUS BORDERS

Speaking Wednesday, Mr Ipara blamed porous sea borders blamed and lack of commitment by the neighbouring countries for the illegal trade.

“But the strict surveillance that we have is what has led us to arrest more people than any other county in the region. These people thought they would make Mombasa a transit point but we have proved them wrong,” said Mr Ipara in an interview with the Nation at his office.

Cases of those who have been arrested in connection to the illicit trade are ongoing at the Mombasa Law Courts.

FREED ON BOND

Some of the suspects who have been arraigned have been released on bond as they continue with their cases.

The Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya Organising Secretary Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa called on the Judiciary to deal harshly with the suspects.

Sheikh Khalifa said some of those who are released on bond end up continuing with their illegal businesses.

“That’s why we need to see tough bonds being given to these people. Our society here at the Coast has been ruined because of drugs, particularly heroin. Our youth have been turned into be zombies because of this menace,” said Sheikh Khalifa.

He applauded the police for their efforts but called on the government to do more to seal gaps that allow the trade to thrive in the region.