In a special report timed to coincide with the latest installment of the KTN investigation into drug trafficking, we unveil some of the untold secrets of the so-called Armenian mercenaries
Last year, KTN’s investigations team produced a daring expose of the cover-up that followed the seizure of Kenya’s largest ever cocaine haul in December 2004. In a series of television features tagged ‘Paruwanja la Mihadarati’ (Jicho Pevu) and ‘The Untouchables’ (Inside Story), the teams looked at the events surrounding the discovery of tonnes of cocaine in Malindi and Nairobi.
KTN Senior Investigative Editor MOHAMMED ALI and Senior Investigative Reporter DENNIS ONSARIGO disclosed how several tonnes of the cocaine went missing, how key suspects were allowed to escape and how two State prosecutions were deliberately mishandled.
They also shone a light on the drastic lengths to which Kenya’s drug barons and their friends in high places go to ensure their secrets remain protected. At least four police officers and one spy investigating or connected to drug-related cases have been killed in mysterious circumstances, the team reported.
The police dismissed this as “alarmist” or false reporting. However, they are yet to explain the five killings cited in the report adequately. Three of the killings were apparently extra-judicial murders by fellow police officers.
The February 2005 execution of General Service Unit adjutant Erastus Chemorei, for instance, has since been declared an illegal police killing by an inquest in Eldoret. Video evidence being held by the police can also prove conclusively that Administration Police officers Badi Mwajirani and Juma Mwagaatu were unlawfully killed in the manner reported by Ali and Onsarigo, vindicating KTN’s bold reporting.
Now, in a special report that began airing yesterday, Ali and Onsarigo hunt down the powerful forces that orchestrated the massive cover up.
To accompany their special reports, The Standard On Saturday and The Standard On Sunday will publish several supporting features on the saga, as well as on the latest revelations.
To get a full picture of this explosive investigation, watch ‘Paruwanja la Mihadarati’ and ‘The Untouchables’ on KTN during the Kiswahili and English language news bulletins.
By STANDARD ON SATURDAY TEAM, MOHAMMED ALI and DENNIS ONSARIGO
The foreign mercenaries whose activities infuriated Kenyans in early 2006 were brought into the country by rogue Government officials in response to the dramatic seizure of 1.1 metric tonnes of cocaine 15 months earlier, it has emerged.
The men were allegedly recruited to set up and train a specialised anti-narcotics unit. Publicly purporting to be investors and privately passing as security consultants, the foreigners — known locally as the ‘Artur brothers’ — have since been unmasked by multiple sources as impostors.
More than one source suggests the State was tricked into hiring enforcers working for drug traffickers who wanted to recover the Sh6.4 billion worth of cocaine being held in Kenya. The hired guns failed to complete their task after they were publicly exposed following their March 2, 2006, raid on the Standard Group. This was a bungled operation ordered on the strength of false information about an alleged story linking powerful individuals to drug trafficking in Kenya. No such story existed.
In the weeks after their presence became public, speculation about their true mission included accusations they were part of an assassination squad targeting several political figures. There was even a claim Opposition leaders had hired the men and should be arrested on treason charges. A security scare at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport about 12 weeks after the Standard raid finally saw the men kicked out of the country and disowned by State officials as “international criminals”.
The claims that the Arturs were forming a secret CID unit were first reported in confidential diplomatic cables in 2006 as uncorroborated information from a local politician. Kenya Police and Government officials have denied this, insisting the foreigners had forged police identification papers. However, investigations by Standard Group journalists show key State agents and politically connected people had a hand in bringing the men to Kenya and embedding several of them as senior police officers in the Criminal Investigations Department. This is why they received help and protection from various State agents who believed they were in Kenya on legitimate, Government-sanctioned operations.
This was also why an April 2006 meeting chaired by former Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura and attended by top security officials decided to take no action over the mercenaries despite an NSIS report that suggested they were drug dealers.
For about three months, the so-called Artur brothers had free run of Nairobi police stations from which they took vehicle number plates with which to disguise their unit’s cars. One of them even visited the secure installation where the 1,141kg of cocaine was being stored until two cases in court were completed.