Police officers inspect a heroin haul after interception.
By ABDULHAKIM SHERMAN
Anti-Narcotics police have intercepted a cocaine haul worth more than Sh 360 million at Mombasa port that is suspected to have been on transit.
The cocaine haul was said to have been concealed in four sugar containers. Police who talked on a condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the press said.
The containers are currently detained at the port police station although initial verification had confirmed that one of them had cocaine.
The latest US Department of State International Narcotics Control Strategy report says Kenya is a significant transit country for a variety of illicit drugs, including heroin and cocaine, with an increasing domestic user population.
The report adds that drug trafficking organizations take advantage of corruption within the Kenyan government and business community, and proceeds from drug trafficking contribute to the corruption of Kenyan institutions.
“High-level prosecutions or large seizures remain infrequent,” the report notes.
In May, 2014 an Australian warship seized heroin with an estimated street value of Sh10.7 billion (US$123 million) off the coast of Somalia.
The 449 kilogramme haul, found in a dhow was the second to be intercepted following another Sh23.2 billion seized and destroyed by Australian Navy off the Kenyan coast at the time.
The May 2014 heroin haul was intercepted by HMAS Darwin while patrolling the Indian Ocean some 40 nautical miles off Somalia’s east coast.
The ship’s commander Terry Morrison said the seizure “removed a major source of funding for terrorist and criminal networks which included Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Al-Shabaab”.
The drugs were hidden in 20 bags, each weighing between 20 to 25 kilogrammes each.
HMAS Darwin is part of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) – a naval partnership involving 30 nations that patrols 2.5 million square miles of international waters.
The Australian ship enforces maritime security with a focus on terrorist activity in the Middle East and Indian Ocean regions as part of the British-led Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, which operates under the CMF.
The bust, which was the CMF’s seventh “significant seizure” in 2014, came three weeks after the Australian and British navies jointly found 1,032 kilogrammes of heroin in another dhow off the Kenyan coast.
Security agencies suspected a Pakistani link in the Sh23.2 billion heroin seized and destroyed by Australian Navy off the Kenyan coast recently.
According to the Times of India, the Gujarat-registered dhow Lakshmi Narayan could have been linked to the intercepted 1,032 kilogramme of heroin found hidden among cement bags.
The dhow docked at Mombasa port several days after the seizure and destruction of the Sh23.2 billion heroin haul.
Officials at the Mombasa port said the vessel called the search and rescue centre saying it was in distress as water was getting in.
The US International Narcotics Control Strategy report observes that drug traffickers exploit Kenya’s long Indian Ocean coastline and lack of adequate security controls at the port of Mombasa.
“Southwest Asian heroin is transported in multi-hundred kilogram quantities by small oceangoing vessels (dhows) across the Indian Ocean to the Kenyan coastline,” the report says.
It reveals that once the heroin arrives in Kenya, it is distributed to retail markets and user populations throughout Africa, Europe, and North America.
The report notes that Kenya has made significant progress in drug treatment and prevention with the US support.
It adds that Kenya is also using U.S.-developed curriculum to train and professionalize the substance use treatment workforce.
The report adds that there is no mutual legal assistance treaty in force between Kenya and the United States, to fight drug trafficking though Kenya is a party to multilateral conventions that contain provisions regarding extradition and mutual legal assistance.
However, it says U.S. bilateral cooperation with Kenya on counternarcotics matters has included the creation of a vetted unit within Kenya’s anti-narcotics policing unit and collaboration in the arrest and prosecution of several significant traffickers.
“The principal U.S. counternarcotics objective in Kenya is to interdict the flow of narcotics to the United States,” the report reveals.
It says the US seeks to accomplish these objectives through law enforcement cooperation, the encouragement of a strong Kenyan government commitment to narcotics interdiction, and the strengthening of Kenyan counternarcotics and overall judicial capabilities.
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