Anti-narcotics officers in Mombasa on Tuesday recovered 342.67 kilogrammes of heroin with a Sh1.028 billion street value from a suspicious ship seized two weeks ago.
The head of the anti-narcotics unit in Mombasa, Khamis Massa, told the press that the officers recovered 341.7 kilogrammes from the 1,800-litre diesel reservoir of the ship B.Bushehr Amin Darya (alias MV Al Noor).
“So far we have been able to recover 342.67 kilogrammes of heroin. We got 341.7 kilogrammes from the diesel tank reservoir in addition to the 974 grams we earlier seized,” Mr Massa said.
He said he believed it was mixed with the diesel in order to conceal the drugs.
Mr Massa said samples from water found in drums in the ship had tested positive for traces of heroin, adding that his officers would continue the search.
He said investigators were yet to establish whether the crew members, who were arrested when the vessel was impounded, were trying to destroy the drugs.
He said the nine crew members may face charges of trying to conceal evidence or destroying evidence if it was found that they did it during the arrest.
Mr Massa confirmed that officers had recovered 787 intact sachets, which they were holding as evidence.
He said the officers took samples from 21 bags in which they packed the brown-coloured substance for further analysis with the government chemist.
Police officers were on Monday last week granted 14 days to investigate the nine crew members of the ship.
The nine foreign nationals appeared before senior principal magistrate Justice Kituko to answer charges of drug trafficking.
Mr Massa confirmed that post-mortem results for one of the crew members who died in mysterious circumstances on Monday were not yet out. The deceased had already been buried, he said.
The nine crew members are still under heavy guard at the port police station, while their ship is now under tight 24-hour watch from the Navy.
The ship was seized by a Navy patrol ship two weeks ago within Kenya territorial waters in the deep sea in Lamu sailing towards Mombasa.
The ship was said to be among two cargo vessels that were being monitored by security agencies after they left Somalia.
Kenyan authorities — who had information that the suspicious ship could have been used to smuggle illegal goods, including firearms and hard drugs — managed to intercept one of them on the night of July 3.
The crew claimed the ship was carrying 300 tonnes of cement and that the vessel was one of two that had sailed from Pakistan and had called in to Mogadishu, Somalia, apparently en route to Zanzibar.
The paperwork found on board stated that the cargo had been loaded in Mombasa.
Early reports suggested the ship was called Al Noor, but the vessel is now accepted to be the B. Bushehr Amin Darya (IMO 8630784), whose home port is Bandar Bushehr, Iran.