Kenya ‘used as a drugs transit route’

Thursday December 23 2010

By BERNARD NAMUNANE [email protected]

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

Documents on drug trafficking in Kenya in our possession indicate that the cocaine arrived in Mombasa disguised as boxes of bananas in refrigerated containers.

The containers were quickly cleared at the port and the cargo brought to Nairobi, where it was repackaged into smaller bundles that were later transported to Mombasa.

However, along the way, they were intercepted by policemen who arrested 10 suspects, and not the main man.

That the cocaine was shipped from Venezuela is an indicator that Kenya is not a producer of the narcotics.

Neither is it a destination, as shown by the latest survey carried out by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Kenya – as well as Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia – are used as transit routes for drugs to the United States, Europe and partly South Africa.

The report lists the drugs involved as cocaine, which is produced in Latin American countries, including Venezuela; heroin from Afghanistan and Myanmar (formerly Burma); cannabis and resin from Afghanistan; and methaqualone from India and China.

The heroin and cannabis from Afghanistan is shipped to Pakistan from where it finds its way to the two key airports in the region – Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Addis Ababa International Airport – before they are flown to Western Europe and the US. From Myanmar, heroin first goes through Thailand, then to the transit points in East Africa, where the trafficking syndicates direct them to Europe and the US.

“There are two important international airports in the region, servicing the capitals’ of Ethiopia and Kenya, which are used as transit points for drugs.

“Both airports have connections between West Africa and the heroin-producing countries in South West and South East Asia.

“There is also an increasing use of postal and courier services for cocaine, heroin and hashish,” the report says.

However, the survey shows that the East African region is listed as a big market for cocaine from Latin America and to a smaller extent from South America.

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.