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DCI links corrupt judges and Police to drug cartels

Drug routes

Rampant corruption in the judiciary is frustrating efforts of a multi-agency task force charged with the responsibility of ridding the country of narcotics, a new report shows.

The report, a product of months of investigations, put the courts on the spot, amid allegations that drug dealers approach judicial officers with mouthwatering deals to get lenient rulings.

Coupled with the challenge at the courts is complicity by police officers who collude with drug lords to help the latter evade arrest. 

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations says in the confidential report obtained by the Star, that dozens of judges and magistrates are under investigations over close links to known narcotics traffickers.

“Drug traffickers using proxies have worked their tentacles into some state agencies responsible for battling the vice,” the report reads in part. 

The report also claims that proxies approach judicial officers with mouthwatering deals in exchange for lenient rulings for their offences.

“A dozen court officials are currently under close scrutiny of investigative agencies over close links to known narcotics traffickers,” reads the report shared with various security agencies.

Kenya is a major target market for heroin but other narcotics also find their way through its porous borders.

More alarming is that the dealers are targeting schoolgoing children as rogue officers “are in bed” with the dealers, at times directly or through proxies.

The police also blame the courts for issuing bail terms that suspects pay within days, hence can manoeuvre to have their businesses run uninterrupted. 

A recent case involved two police officers (names withheld) who were charged with stealing 25 kilos of heroin they were meant to arrest.

The cops, the report reveals, have been distributing the drug through a secret network that the authorities are yet to unmask.

A further finding is that Kenya still remains an active transit point for drugs to parts of Africa, Europe, and America.

 “At the same time local syndicates continue to source drugs from Uganda and Tanzania which they supply locally,” the police revealed.

And in what could shock many, despite the inroads made in weeding out the menace, Kenya is still a host to high ranking members of a drug trafficking organisation.

The new entity operates in Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Seychelles, Madagascar, India, Dubai, and Pakistan.

“The organisation receives bulk heroin in Mozambique and Tanzania from Pakistan which is then distributed to various parts of Africa and Europe,” police revealed.

At the helm of drug trafficking organisations are Iranian and Indian smugglers who purchase heroin from Afghani farmers, “at ridiculously low prices”.

The lot then smuggles it through Afghanistan to Pakistan, famed as the southern route, through the Arabian Sea into parts of Africa.

The smugglers largely work with Nigerian nationals – though have links with movers from other African states, Kenya included, who recruit couriers.

“The groups have established a network that recruits vulnerable individuals in the region to smuggle narcotics to Europe, Asia, and some African countries,” the report states in part.

UN ON EAST AFRICA DRUG TRAIL

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Eastern Africa is accessible by sea to heroin producer countries in South West and South East Asia through the ports in Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya and Tanzania.

The ungoverned space in Somalia has made it easier for narcotics to get to Nairobi and Addis Ababa through porous transit routes, at times through JKIA and Bole International Airport.

“Both airports have connections between West Africa and the heroin‑producing countries in South West and South East Asia,” the UNODC says in its website.

“Both airports have connections between West Africa and the heroin‑producing countries in South West and South East Asia,” the UNODC says in its website.

The recruitment process involves targeting potential couriers, training them in concealment methods like ingesting narcotics or use of false compartments in hand luggage.

The couriers are also briefed on how to beat visa processing hurdles, paying for travel and hotel expenses, and smuggling money back upon successful deliveries.

Anti-drugs agency Nacada in 2017 said 18.5 per cent of Kenyans aged 15-65 years are using at least one drug or psychotropic substance.

Heroin, cocaine, bhang, miraa, alcohol, and tobacco are the most abused substances in the country, both in upmarket residences and slums.

More alarming is that deaths resulting from drug overdose are undocumented, hence making it hard for authorities to make competent decisions to mitigate them.

“This paints a grim picture given that the age bracket is diverse and indicates that the problem affects our communities across the board,” the police said.

But there is hope as a multi-agency operation has helped bring many drug trafficking organisations down on their knees.

The multi-agency task force reports directly to President Uhuru Kenyatta hence cutting the red tape that compromised arrests and prosecution of culprits.

“Activities of narcotics traffickers – both foreign nationals and native Kenyans, have shrunk. The drug dealing mafia and their ilk are running out of time and space to hide,” the police said.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for drug traffickers to move their products; this is owing to the increased vigilance by security agencies on land, air, and sea,” the police said. 

However, the agencies admit that they are yet to find ways of taming the infusion of dirty money into the country’s economy.

Global Financial Authority – a US NGO, in a report titled “Transnational Crime and Developing World”said the global market in drug trafficking has an annual global value of between 426 and 652 billion USD.

Narcotics trade is rated the second most lucrative illicit market after that of counterfeit and pirated goods which generate as much as 1.13 trillion USD annually.

Steps taken by Kenya to discourage trade in narcotics include freezing illegally acquired assets.

A case in point was when the Assets Recovery Agency froze property worth Sh120 million belonging to six major drug dealers in Nairobi and Mombasa.

These included eight vehicles and 21 million in cash seized from four drug dealers in Mombasa.

Over 30 people and over 200 kilos of heroin were recovered in the first quarter of 2019.

The authorities are warning Kenyans, especially airline staff and cabin crew, against being lured into the trade as it would bring down their careers.

Additionally, Kenyan citizens are rotting in jails overseas as far as Asia and Europe with little hope of ever being visited by family members.

Corrupt police scuttle fight against drugs

The government has tried to fight this problem, especially at the Coast where we witnessed the torching of two yachts seized for trafficking heroin.

That was a big effort by President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto, whose administration has shown political goodwill to fight narcotics.

The fight started with President Mwai Kibaki when Internal Security minister George Saitoti went to Parliament and named drug lords. He even promised to name more drug barons but unfortunately died before doing so. 

There is only one problem, though – corruption in the police service. Not all police officers are corrupt. We have very good policemen and women. 

However, there are a few corrupt officers who make this fight difficult even for Nacada, which is toothless because it cannot investigate, arrest barons or charge them.

This mandate is left to the police, some of whom are corrupt and in the pockets of the drug barons.

The government needs to investigate and identify the few corrupt officers who curtail efforts to fight drugs.

One thing that the government has not come out clear about is why we rarely see heroin that has been seized being burnt. In the nine years, I was in Nacada, the only thing we saw being burnt is bhang.

Another major setback is the government’s failure to open the Miritini Drug Rehabilitation Centre as was proposed by Nacada. We began this campaign to have the Miritini rehab opened in the National Youth Service compound together with former Nacada chair John Mututho.

The President even agreed to have the rehab opened and be the referral centre at the Coast. I would urge the government to speed up this process. There are many peddlers selling drugs on behalf of barons in all six counties of the Coast. 

There are even families that are known to sell drugs as a ‘profession’. These should be investigated, arrested and prosecuted. 

The Judiciary has let down the fight against drugs. Efforts by the government are sometimes thwarted by the release of traffickers on low bail. The government must find a way to tighten the noose

www.the-star.co.ke

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