alexa How drug dealers use proxies to dodge law  - Daily Nation

How drug dealers use proxies to dodge law 

Tuesday February 26 2019

Ms Jane Wambui Wanjiru (left) and her husband Joseph Wanjohi Muthie

Ms Jane Wambui Wanjiru (left) and her husband Joseph Wanjohi Muthie during the hearing of their drug trafficking case at the Kibera Law Courts in Nairobi in 2009. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ABIUD OCHIENG
By ABIUD OCHIENG
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A police investigation spanning 14 years may have finally unravelled the tactics drug traffickers use to operate undetected.

The traffickers have networks in several countries and use close relatives and proxies (mules).

The Nation has established that the mules acquire, convey, sell and distribute the drugs on behalf of the barons.

The barons then buy and register properties using the proceeds.

ASSOCIATES

A global moratorium has been placed on every country to combat the trafficking of narcotics and psychotropic substances, transnational organised crime and laundering of proceeds of crime.

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Mr Joseph Wanjohi and his wife Jane Wambui Wanjiru have been under investigation since 2005.

“Wanjohi and Wanjiru have been under the radar for narcotics trafficking, distribution and sale of drugs and wildlife trophies, organised crime and money laundering,” police say.

The revelations are contained in court papers filed by a team of investigators.

The two were arrested at their Muthaiga home in Nairobi on October 16, 2009 with 1,274 grammes of heroin, police say.

They had allegedly devised a complex scheme of acquiring, trafficking, distributing and selling drugs through relatives, associates and mules in and outside the country.

Ms Wanjiru’s siblings — Ms Elizabeth Njoki and Mr Joseph Kinyanjui — worked for the couple as mules, records show.

The couple also had a Tanzanian mule, Nassoro Salim Said.

When Njoki and Said were arrested in Mlolongo, near Nairobi in September 2016, they were in possession of 3,921.6 grammes of heroin valued at Sh11,764,800.

CENTRAL BANK

Mr Kinyanjui was arrested with 238.2 grammes of heroin valued at Sh714,600 on September 4, 2017. He was sentenced to 20 years in jail and ordered to pay a Sh1 million fine.

“Investigations established that the benefits derived from the narcotics and wildlife trophies trade were delivered to Mr Wanjohi and Ms Wanjiru by way of cash and deposits into their bank accounts by their agents, associates and conduit entities,” police said.

The couple invested the money in properties with the intention of concealing, disguising and hiding the source of the funds.

To disrupt the chain of investigations, Mr Wanjohi and his wife registered two companies: Sidjoe Manufacturers and Suppliers and Marudiono Zone Ltd.

They also created other entities as conduits of money laundering and registered some of the assets under the names of the entities.

In August, the Assets Recovery Agency received information that the couple had acquired properties using proceeds from the illegitimate trade.

A file was opened to investigate the pair’s six accounts.

“Investigations established that the deposits were made in tranches of below Sh1 million to evade the reporting threshold as per the Central Bank of Kenya guidelines,” police said.

The couple appeared before the investigating team to record statements.

ASSETS

“Analysis of the statements does not explain satisfactorily the source of the funds used to buy the assets,” police added.

The statements were also found to contradict one another, though the two claim to run their businesses jointly.

Police believe the changing of the businesses and creating of entities “is an indication of their efforts and intentions to conceal, hide and disguise the benefits they derived from the illegal trade”.

The ARA, through lawyer Mohamed Adow, has applied to the court to have the assets forfeited to the State “because they were acquired through proceeds of crime”.

Last year, the High Court froze the assets of three suspected drug traffickers pending investigations by the agency.

The court stopped Mr Stephen Vicker Mangira, Tanzanian Nabil Loo Mohamed and Mr Bakari Kila Bakari from accessing more than Sh20 million and several motor vehicles detained at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters in Nairobi and Mombasa.

The assets, authorities told the court, were believed to be proceeds of crime.

LAUNDERING

At the time the ARA filed the application to freeze the assets, the three were facing drug-related charges.

They are among several individuals who were arrested in Mombasa on February 11, 2017 by DCI detectives on suspicion of trafficking narcotics and money laundering.

ARA was established under the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act.

It has the mandate of identifying, tracing, freezing and recovering the proceeds of crime.

The state agency is authorised to bring civil forfeiture proceedings against suspects.

If a case if proved, the assets acquired using proceeds of crime are repossessed and registered in the name of the government.

All proceeds are sent to the government coffers.