Pubdate: Sun, 19 Dec 2004
Source: Daily Nation (Kenya)
Copyright: 2004 Nation Newspapers
Author: Dominic Wabala And Mwangi Githahu
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)



Police probing the Sh5 billion cocaine haul seized last Tuesday in a godown 
on the outskirts of Nairobi and in a Malindi villa have been battling 
pressure from politicians and businessmen intent on interfering with 

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Philip Murgor, says the question is 
whether there is a "Mr Big" involved and if he is getting protection from 
senior figures in government or the security apparatus.

Speaking to the Sunday Nation on Friday afternoon, Mr Murgor said it was 
still too early to tell if there was a local central player in the whole 

"It is too early to tell if there is a Mr Big. When all the leads are in 
then we'll be in a position to see the whole picture," Mr Murgor said.

The CID director, Mr Joseph Kamau, led an operation to airlift the 701 
packets of high-grade cocaine from a speedboat parked within Malindi 
Casuarina Estate's Rocky House.

He was overheard instructing the GSU Commandant, Mr Lawrence Mwadime, not 
to bow to pressure from businessmen or politicians.

"Do not allow any businessman, politician or even a cabinet minister to 
interfere in this operation," Mr Kamau said.

Mr Kamau personally accompanied the 25 paramilitary officers on a 
helicopter from Malindi in sweltering heat to bring the one-tonne haul of 
cocaine into safe custody in Nairobi - lest it disappears like a hashish 
haul that vanished from Bamburi Police Station about six years ago.

Sources close to the investigation said drug barons could not have possibly 
been trafficking such huge consignments without any political patronage.

Like the Cameroonian baron nicknamed 'President', the drug syndicate is 
said to enjoy political protection.

Sources close to the investigation said detectives acted upon information 
gathered by intelligence agents who had been monitoring the drug syndicate 
for more than six months.

Mr Murgor

The sources said the seizure was an indication of a fall-out between rival 
syndicates. One month ago, during the arrest of a foreigner on a murder 
charge, a witness mentioned to journalists about a seven-tonne consignment 
of cocaine that had been shipped into the country by drug barons, and 
promised to lead police to the haul.

The drug barons way back in June began arrangements for delivery of what 
would eventually turn out to be the largest drug haul ever seized in Kenya. 
They bought a speedboat from Franco Cespedos, Costa Nave 3129600, Malaga, 
Spain, through a Kenyan company, Central Valleys Supplies Ltd, PO Box 
66593-00800, Nairobi, on June 4 at a cost of 19,900 Euros (Sh2,109,400).

On September 9, Ibrahim Abdalla Omar, a Malindi broker, approached Italian 
architect and contractor Angelo Ricci, and requested him to rent out the 
house to some foreigners for six months. Four days later, Mr Ricci's estate 
manager, Salim Bedi, received 4,000 Euros from the broker and a 50-year-old 
German. David Kiragu, George Kiragu and Ken Mgongo were also present during 
the transaction.

Ten days after the initial contact by the broker, eight foreigners - 
including some Germans, Poles and Dutch - arrived at the four-bedroom 
villa. These are some of the names that the detectives are interviewing in 
the investigation. A group of people hurriedly left the villa in a Toyota 
Corolla AE110 car, registration number KAR 011Q, which was later found 
abandoned at Malindi Airport parking.

Detectives led by Mr Musa Yego began the investigation in Mombasa by 
seizing documents from a tycoon. The sleuths are combing through a number 
of containers, including one registered as Maeu 5650860; DK 22 32 which was 
shipped into the country along with three others in November.

Documents show that on arrival in Mombasa from Colombia, the refrigerated 
containers were opened, unloaded and contents verified by Customs.

The goods were loaded onto trucks that took them to Pepe Inland Container 
depot where they went through the same process by the Kenya Revenue 
Authority and released to their owners.

Two refrigerated containers with cocaine were then shipped to Kenomar 
International (K) air and sea freighters' godown in Embakasi and repackaged.

As police planned to conduct simultaneous raids in Embakasi and Malindi, 
the drug barons slipped out just before GSU and Anti-Narcotics Unit 
officers stormed into Casuarina.

Police have retrieved registration numbers of all vehicles that entered 
Kenomar International's gate within that period and several people who 
drove into number 20 are being questioned.

The Embakasi godown, Malindi villa, the speedboat and the Toyota Corolla 
car abandoned at Malindi are expected to be seized by the governement as 
the law stipulates.

Police have also been trying to find out if there is any linkage between 
the cocaine haul and a vicious raid in Malindi where a Swiss national was 
stabbed to death, two British tourists seriously injured and suicide by a 
German national several days before the drugs were seized.

The Coast Provincial Police Officer, Mr Alex Rono, revealed the operation 
in Malindi had been planned four days before the drugs were seized. 
Twenty-five GSU officers were airlifted to Malindi by an M1-17 
Russian-made, 27-seater police helicopter last Tuesday at about 3 pm. More 
than 200 officers were deployed elsewhere.

A study on narcotics trade in Kenya published in 1999 showed the business 
is controlled by high-placed players who share the profits in return for 
political protection.

The study named a number of drug barons, including billionaire Ibrahim 
Akasha (now deceased).

The report also mentioned an assistant minister under President Moi. It 
said drug barons funded Kanu campaigns in the 1992 and 1997 general elections.

Government spokesman Alfred Mutua told the Voice of America that Tuesday's 
drug bust underscored worries the Kenyan government had harboured about 
illegal trafficking.

"The government is very concerned that Kenya is becoming one of the 
countries used as a conduit for drugs because of our efficient 
communications system," he said.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in narcotics in Kenya are 
stiff. The penalty for possession of drugs, including marijuana, is 10 
years' jail with no option of a fine.

Dr Mutua says the government is working closely with Interpol and drug 
enforcement agencies around the world to stamp out trafficking.

Before he was shot dead by a lone gunman in Amsterdam's red-light district 
on May 3, 2000, Mr Akasha was suspected to be the mastermind behind hashish 
trade in Kenya. The value of his estate was estimated at Sh10 billion, and 
this included property in Amsterdam, the Middle East and Asia.

Kenya is one of three African countries where the UN International Drug 
Control Programme has offices.

The UN programme says Mombasa and Nairobi are the region's most important 
transit points for illegal drugs. Although in the current case the drugs 
are believed to have come from South America, the United Nations says Kenya 
most often acts as a bridge between Asian producer nations and consumers in 
the West.
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