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Kenyan military begins search for human traffickers from Ethiopia border

By Ali Abdi | Published Wed, December 2nd 2015 at 12:40, Updated December 2nd 2015 at 12:43 GMT +3

The military has joined the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) in a new initiative to contain runaway human trafficking from Ethiopia.

The soldiers from the School of Infantry have been deployed to the Isiolo-Nairobi road in what security sources said was aimed at arresting foreigners being trafficked through the country by cartels based in Kenya.

The cartels operate from Moyale, Marsabit, Laisamis, Isiolo and Nairobi.

Last week, the Government directed that key Kenyan cartels involved in the multi-million-shilling human smuggling ring be arrested.

To smuggle a person between Moyale and Nairobi costs an average of Sh50,000 according to sources within Government.

Over the last one week, more than 1,000 illegal immigrants from Ethiopia have been arrested along the Isiolo-Moyale road. Over 200 were repatriated.

County Directorate of Criminal Investigations Officer David Cheruiyot said on Monday last week, 131 Ethiopians were arrested at Archer's Post and charged with being in the country illegally.

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The suspects are remanded at Isiolo prison. Prisons in Moyale, Marsabit, Isiolo, Meru, Embu, Nanyuki, Nairobi and Namanga are some of the facilities hosting the foreigners.

The driver of the vehicle, his turn-boy and the owner were also charged. "We are looking for the smuggler called Awale from Korr in Marsabit County," said Mr Cheruiyot.

A source at the ATPU said that runaway human smuggling posed a security threat to the country.

"The movement between Somalia and Kenya has almost been resolved but we are concerned now with the huge movement between Kenya and Ethiopia," said the source.

The army erected a road block from Friday afternoon where they stopped and checked vehicles moving to and from Isiolo.

"We are working with the army, and we are looking for them (the smugglers). It's not strange because we have done this before," said a police source.

County Commissioner George Natembeya said the influx of Ethiopians was a security threat adding that Kenyan businessmen work in cahoots with Immigration officials manning the Moyale border point to smuggle in aliens.

"There are some loose ends here. We have aliens passing through our county. The Immigration department must do its work properly," said Mr Natembeya.

The Moyale Border Immigration Officer, Patrick Njagi, could not be reached for comment, but in an earlier interview he said his department lacked vehicles and personnel to parole the 500km porous border.

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