Pubdate: Fri, 17 Dec 2004
Source: Daily Nation (Kenya)
Copyright: 2004 Nation Newspapers
Author: Dominic Wabala And Robert Nyagah
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Detectives who seized cocaine valued at Sh5 billion in Nairobi and
Malindi yesterday arrested two more suspects and raided a container
depot in Athi River .

The arrests came as it emerged that the drug barons behind the huge
consignment of hard drugs - the largest ever found in Africa - fled
after being tipped off that a raid was imminent.

The two arrests bring to 10 the number of people being held in
connection with the drugs bust, at a godown in Embakasi and at their
headquarters in Rocky House, Malindi.

Three of those already held - two Italians and a Kenyan - were seized
in Malindi while a fourth was arrested in Nairobi. Four others,
including one Kenyan, were arrested in Holland.

Yesterday, police who arrested an estate manager and a businessman in
Nairobi, gave their names as Mr Salim Bedi, the manager, and Mr Ken
Mungongo of Mungogo Investments.

Mr Bedi was said to manage the estate of Italian contractor Angelo
Rocchi, the original owner of Rocky House in Casuarina, Malindi, where
701 kilogrammes of cocaine destined for Western Europe and America
were discovered.

Mr Mungongo was said to have helped the Italian to lease his villa to
some Germans, in September.

The two men were arrested as police continued to investigate how the
villa could have been rented out to the foreigners without details of
them being made available.

The arrests came as a contingent of police from the drugs squad and
the CID raided Pepe Inland Container Depot at Athi River, after it
emerged the Embakasi container had passed through there on its way to

Police tracing the movement of the container had zeroed in on the
depot after documents found at a Mombasa clearing and forwarding firm
showed the drug haul had been taken there.

The privately owned depot handles containers for companies and
individuals before releasing them to their owners.

A special unit led by Mr Musa Yego camped at the depot where they also
investigated the ownership of six unregistered vehicles they came
across there.

Police were focusing their attention on documents dating back to last
January 26 which all concerned one particular forwarding agent.

Mr Yego said they were checking them to verify who had imported the
containers and where they went from the depot.

He added that the search among containers could extend nationwide as
the hunt for the traffickers continued.

Helping them in their search was a new high-tech drugs finding machine
which could detect even minute amounts of narcotics.

The investigations went on as CID director Joseph Kamau said the drugs
seizure was the culmination of six months of work by local and
international police.

A dispatch from the Kenya News Agency quoted a police source saying
they had been watching the villa for the last three weeks. It had not
been licensed for rental, arousing suspicions that criminal activities
were taking place.

In Malindi, drugs squad officers intensified investigations to
ascertain the origin of the high-grade cocaine as the public expressed
shock and outrage.

Residents asked the Government to stop at nothing to arrest the
traffickers, who now threatened to besmirch the good name of the
popular resort.

Police had raided Rocky House on Tuesday night, seizing 701
kilogrammes of cocaine packed in a speedboat still on its carrier.

"It is unbelievable that such drugs can be found in Malindi, even if
they were targeting the export market, it is possible some could have
ended with our youth," said Mr. Mohammed Hassan a travel agent.

Mr Kassim Omar hoped the drugs find would not interfere with tourism.
"We would like our town to continue having a good reputation, not to
be feared by families who bring their children for holidays, he said.

Police also questioned several people after it emerged small amounts
of cocaine could have been sold to some foreigners suspected to use

Police questioned known addicts to see if there had been an increase
in the supply of narcotics in Malindi.

All the 701 kilogrammes of the high-grade Colombian cocaine found at
Rocky House was later taken to Nairobi by air to await destruction by
the police.

According to the Malindi police chief there are no plans to expand the
search for drugs to cover the more than 3,000 private villas and
cottages, in the area; most of which have high walls and iron gates to
preserve their privacy.

The OCPD however said even before the seizure of the large amount of
cocaine the anti narcotic police had intensified campaigns to deal
with drug traffickers, peddlers and users.

"Many suspects have been taken to court with various amounts of bhang,
brown sugar among other drugs," said Mr Matano noting that campaigns
against trafficking and use of drugs has been on-going.

Meanwhile, Malindi tour operators called on the government to expand
it intelligence operations in tourist resorts in the coast and equip
Kenyans and tourist police with resources to undertake surveys and
studies to deal with tourism related crimes such as drug

The chairman of the Malindi Association of Tour Operators Mr Mathew
Katoto Nguli said that just like campaigns against terrorism, the
police and all Kenyans should unite to fight drug trafficking.
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