Pubdate: Tue, 22 Feb 2000
Source: The Daily Nation (Kenya)
Copyright: 2000 Nation Newspapers
Fax: (254-2)213946
Address: P.O.Box 49010 Nairobi, Kenya
Website: http://www.nationaudio.com/News/DailyNation/
Author: NATION Team

CORRUPT POLICE AID DRUG LORDS

Police officers and members of the Judiciary are widely suspected of
colluding with known drug traffickers to frustrate arrests and
convictions.

It is widely believed in police, court and media circles that the
kingpins of drug cartels operating in Nairobi and Mombasa are
protected by senior government officials and politicians.

Anti-narcotics Unit officers cite instances where they have taken drug
traffickers to court only to see them to be released on bond. The
suspects have then promptly disappeared.

In some cases, courts are tricked into releasing drug suspects on
medical grounds. An example is Pakistani businessman Asif Massoud
Khan, who was released by the then Chief Magistrate, Mr Omondi Tunya,
on Sh250,000 bail on June 26,1996, pending hearing of an extradition
case against him.

Khan, co-proprietor of a Karachi-based firm, Logical Choice, was
wanted in the United States for fraud and narcotics trafficking
charges. But on being freed on bond, he did not go to the Nairobi
Hospital for treatment as he had claimed in his application for bail.
He checked out of his city hotel and dropped out of sight.

Police have been accused of tipping off drug dealers about impending
arrest, enabling them to escape.

When police seized Sh940 million worth of hashish in Mombasa's
upmarket Nyali suburbs recently, the suspects escaped minutes before
the law enforcers arrived. They had clearly been warned  indeed, food
left on the table was still hot when the officers stormed the house.

One of the suspects in the case is Mr Ibrahim Akasha Abdallah, who is
reported to be in the Netherlands, ostensibly for medical attention.

A major success of the narcotics unit was the conviction of Yusuf
Abdallah Ibrahim, who is serving a 10-year jail term, together with
two Pakistanis, for trafficking in Sh6.1 million worth of heroin. They
were also ordered to pay Sh39 million each, three times the value of
the drug haul.

The Pakistanis had hidden the drug in a consignment of bath towels and
drinking straws sent to Kenya from Afghanistan.

Unconfirmed reports say that Yusuf Abdalla, who lived on the Mugoya
Estate in Nairobi, has bought his way out of jail with Sh90 million
worth of bribes. He has gone underground.

A third suspect, M. P. Mewa Gul, escaped from Kenya after being freed
on Sh5 million bond. The fact that the police seemed not to have
bothered with Mr Gul's escape was remarked upon by Senior Resident
Magistrate Christine Meoli.

In October 1998, Ramisi police detained a truck carrying hashish and
cigarettes at Bodo in Kwale District. Two passengers and the truck
driver were arrested and taken to Msambweni, where the passengers
mysteriously disappeared.

The truck had 160 cartons, 20 of which contained Winston cigarettes
which had been smuggled into the country and the rest carried hashish.

Eluding the police or tying up the judicial process is a favourite
tactic of the drug suspects. Italian Romano Antonino has for eight
years fought extradition to Milan, where he is wanted on trafficking
and fraud charges.

The 55-year-old Malindi resident has been on the run since an arrest
warrant was issued by a Milan court in 1992. Together with eight other
Italians, he is alleged to have established a cartel in Milan and
exchanged drugs with other dealers in Colombia, Spain, Switzerland and
Argentina.

Their operations were exposed by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
and Italian anti-narcotics police. Antonino escaped to Kenya, married
a local girl and established himself as a restaurateur.

Another hashish haul of note was made in January 1998 when Patrick
Lukakha Okutoyi, Nasser Sultan Mbarak, Mohammed Salim Bahamadi and
Peter Mwendwa Mwanzia were charged with smuggling more than 100 kg of
hashish which was on transit to the Seychelles. The case is still
pending resolution as the Kenyan courts wait for witnesses and
exhibits to be brought in from the Seychelles. The accused are out on
a Sh500,000.

The amount of drugs being netted have continued to rise over the
years. While the hauls excite interest and public comment for a short
time, people are mainly unconcerned about the drug problem. The
problem does not have the same urgency as among people in developed
countries where the problem is much more acute. The hauls being made
in Kenya and the money involved in the drug market here is minuscule
compared to the United States where the illicit drug industry is
estimated to be worth between US$75 billion (Sh4.5 trillion) and $100
billion (Sh6 trillion) annually. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake