Police arrest five suspects, search yacht after recovering Sh6m drugs

Anti-narcotics police were yesterday searching a luxury yacht at the Mombasa Port for drugs after it was linked to two kilogrammes of heroin found in a vehicle in Kilifi.

The ship was detained in Kilifi on Friday. The Seychellois pilot of the yacht named Iris Baby and four Kenyan suspects were also detained at the port, where the boat was towed to on Sunday. Reports show the two kilogrammes of heroin have a street value Sh6 million.

Mombasa Police Commander Robert Kitur told journalists that five men, a Seychellois and the four Kenyans, were under investigation over heroin found in the car in Kilifi town. He said they were arrested on the strength of intelligence gathered from local residents.

''The car which police had trailed following a tipoff from members of the public was found with the drugs, which were (drugs) expected to be taken on board the yacht, which was anchored at the Kilifi Boat Yard,'' he said.

The five men, who looked composed, were taken to Kenya Marine Police Station, located within the port and then bundled into a police patrol boat moored to the KPA G section.

Yesterday, a multi-agency security team comprising officials from the Kenya Navy, Kenya Police, Kenya Ports Authority's security, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), Immigration Department, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the National Intelligence Service (NIS) searched the boat as Kenya Navy's Special Boat Unit (SBU) kept watch in speed boats.

"We are still searching the yacht and will give you details if we make any discoveries," said Kitur. He said the vessel most likely sailed into Kilifi Creek from Seychelles after making a call in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

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"It has come here many times from Seychelles through Dar-es-Salaam," said Kitur. He said the vessel regularly transports tourists on the East African coast and is believed to be owned by a Briton. The yacht is registered in Singapore, police said.

Psychotropic substances

Last month, a US State Department report warned that Kenya was still a leading conduit for drugs from South Asia.

The report said that most of the hard drugs are transported through the Indian Ocean in small vessels to the Kenyan coast and later distributed across three continents.

"Kenya is a significant transit country for a variety of illicit drugs, including Southwest Asian heroin and South American cocaine, with an increasing domestic user population...imports of precursor chemicals, including those used to produce methamphetamine and psychotropic substances, are on the rise," said the report.

Traffickers exploit Kenya's long Indian Ocean coastline and lack of adequate security controls at the Port of Mombasa, it added.

"Once in Kenya, the heroin is distributed to retail markets and user populations throughout Africa, Europe, and North America. South American cocaine is brought into Kenya by commercial air couriers arriving on international flights to Nairobi for further distribution to other African locations and Europe."

In November last year, US agents and Kenya's anti-narcotics police from Nairobi raided the home of the Akasha family in Mombasa and arrested Baktash Akasha, his brother Ibrahim Akasha, Indian drug trafficking convict Vijay Goswami and Gulam Hussein, a Pakistani.

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Anti-narcotics policeMombasa PortRobert Kitur