15 August 2012

Kenya: Huge Cocaine Container Disapears in Mombasa

Photo: Elkana Jacob/The Star
Container mystery: Boxes believed to contain cocaine were screened at the Port of Mombasa, but the container strangely disappeared.

A team of drug enforcement agents from America are in Mombasa to investigate the mystery surrounding a container impounded at the port.

The container, suspected to be carrying cocaine, disappeared mysteriously. The team believes that the container that was impounded on Monday night was not the one they had been monitoring since it left the Netherlands for Mombasa two weeks ago aboard MCS Reunion.

Coast provincial investigative officer Ambrose Munyasia said the consignment will be thoroughly scanned at the port of Mombasa and already samples collected from flower bags with seedlings and fertilizer, that were instead found in place of the alleged high grade cocaine have been sent to the government chemist for analysis. It was revealed that the sender of the consignment was G A Verdegaal, while the clearing agent is Boiler Africa Logistics Kenya Ltd.

The container, suspected to be worth millions of shillings, is said to have initially disappeared before arriving at the port on Saturday night. Highly placed sources reveals that Kenya government was tipped by Interpol officers about the consignment that was shipped from the Netherlands's port of Amsterdam, a suspected hub of international drug trafficking. Kenya's drug baron Ibrahim Akasha was killed in Netherlands in May 2000 by a man riding a motorbike where he was shot six times as his wife and two Kenyan friends watched in horror. The bullets tore through his face, heart and abdomen, killing him instantly.

According to police sources the 20- foot container with the registration number TRIU 875522/2 was scheduled to arrive in Mombasa on Saturday. Munyasia said they had received the tip from foreign agencies three days before the ship arrived. "The ship called at the Kilindini port, berth 19 on Saturday 11 August and was under the watch of our officers," said Munyasia. Two senior officers from the American embassy who had arrived in the country three weeks ago led the inspection of the container immediately it was offloaded from the ship.

It is claimed that they decided not to inform the country's intelligence officers because several senior powerful drug cartels continue to enjoy protection. But after 100 per cent verification with the aid of sniffer dogs, it only emerged that the consignment was missing, with only 135,000 crates of Lilium flower bags belonging to Finlay Horticulture Kenya Ltd based in Nairobi found. Police are pursuing leads that the containers was changed at the high seas in Kenya's territorial waters and shipped into the country orwhether it is still inside the ship which has more than 3,000 containers.

However police said they will not inspect all containers to determine whether the drugs could be among them. "Our information was particularly on one container all through so we were not interested with the others; we had information and numbers of the container itself that's why we kept vigil at this place," said Munyasia. Munyasia said no arrests had been made so far and the container have been transferred to the port police station waiting further scanning.

A source further claimed that the consignment had its contents changed at sea and transferred to smaller containers before arriving in Mombasa in small boats. This is the second time Kenya's intelligent officers have failed to intercept drugs consignment despite being tipped by foreign agents. On 10 December last year anti-narcotics officers impounded a 20-foot container belonging to a Nairobi based company suspected to have been carrying cocaine from Brazil.

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