Police have on Wednesday impounded three lorries attached to Nairobi’s Industrial Area prison at Metipso in Eldama Ravine after they were intercepted ferrying timber.
Eldama Ravine police boss Agnes Kamau said each of the lorries was ferrying seven tonnes of cypress timber to Nairobi when they were intercepted by Mau conservator, David Mutoro, and Baringo conservator, Bernard Orinda on Tuesday.
“The three prison officers were arrested by the Forest Service officers while loading timber to the three lorries together with three other hired loaders. We are holding the three suspects at the police station together with three other locals who were loading the timber as we wait to arraign them in court,” said Ms Kamau.
Mr Orinda, the Baringo Conservator, warned that smuggling indigenous trees in the region is on the rise and cautioned forest officers that they risk being sacked if found colluding with illegal loggers.
Security officers in the region have in the past been nabbed colluding with unscrupulous traders to transport timber and smuggle the indigenous sandalwood.
In 2015, a police officer was intercepted smuggling sandalwood from Kasiela in Baringo South sub-county worth approximately Sh5.2 million in a police truck.
The police officer, Musa Kimosop, was arrested at the wee hours of the night at the roadside loading more than 47 bags of the consignment.
The following month, a police vehicle was nabbed by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and intelligence officers in Nakuru ferrying sandalwood worth more than Sh20 million.
The vehicle belonging to Baringo County Administration Police unit was impounded at Kiamunyi estate in the outskirts of Nakuru town after the officers received a tip off from members of the public.
They were transporting the sandalwood in a police car belonging to Kasiela operation camp in Baringo South.
Baringo is a major target of illegal sandalwood traders as the species is found in dry and semi-arid areas like Marigat, Loboi, Barwessa, Arabal and Nginyang. Sandalwood is used to make expensive perfumes.
The sandalwood tree, which takes more than 80 years to mature, is facing extinction due to excessive logging.