The government may destroy the 49 containers of cigarettes impounded by police and Kenya Revenue Authority officers last week as efforts to arrest the importers intensify.
The consignment being held at the Inland Container Depot in Embakasi, Nairobi, is said to have been imported by househelp who remains at large.
Investigators believe the cargo does not belong to the woman.
The company she “owns” with foreign directors, Quality GS Ltd, shipped in the containers of high end cigarettes.
Part of the consignment was said to have been shipped into the country by Xplico Insurance Ltd of Nairobi although the firm’s chief executive Michael Murithii denied it.
Investigations have been frustrated by the carefully layered cover of the suspects, who had evaded close to Sh630 million in duty.
The 40-foot container shipments has 196 million sticks of cigarettes.
Other than being a costly affair, environmental concerns on how to destroy the consignment of cigarettes may complicate the process.
A source privy to the developments said the other alternative would be to force the shipping company return the cargo to Montenegro, but that may spark a court battle.
Maersk Line Kenya Ltd, which shipped the cigarettes from the eastern European country, sought to distance itself from any blame, saying it relies wholly on what customers declare as cargo.
“Maersk Line does not accept illegal cargo. As an ocean carrier, the containers are sealed before their arrival at the terminal,” the company’s regional communication manager for Africa Tricia Suguitan, said late last week.
“Maersk Line relies on its customers to provide the correct information about the contents of their shipment.”
The cigarettes were impounded together with other goods, including Chinese police uniforms meant for a security firm in Nairobi.
The complete uniform, with boots, is also being held as police carry out investigations.
Also among the Sh1.2 billion items being detained are undergarments valued at Sh21 million.
Others items are electric cables valued at Sh10 million, most of which are counterfeits, vehicle spare parts, toothbrushes, fake iron sheets and television decoders valued at Sh22.5 million.
Authorities also want to destroy a consignment of cooking oil valued at Sh10 million and an assortment of counterfeit electronic goods valued at Sh275 million.
The destruction of the goods scheduled for last week was cancelled at the last minute.
Detectives say there is a new trend where cargo is shipped into the country using proxies whose details are either taken without their knowledge or are forced by their seniors, like the case of the househelp on the run.
This means individuals may find themselves on the wrong side of the law when such stolen details are used to import goods illegally or commit other crimes.