Kenyan security personnel have intensified crackdown on narcotics trafficking amid mounting evidence of its link to gang violence that rocked the coastal city of Mombasa recently.
Fred Matiang’i, cabinet secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, announced the war against drugs trade during a tour of Mombasa to quell street violence linked to vicious control of the illicit business.
According to Matiang’i, narcotics trafficking was fueling crime and street violence in the coastal region to the detriment of the tourism sector that is a major source of employment.
“There is a clear nexus between the recent gang violence in Mombasa and fight over control of the drugs business. We will launch a ruthless crackdown on the drugs cartels that are sponsoring chaos in the coastal region,” said Matiang’i.
Shortly after Matiang’i visit to Mombasa, a raid on the palatial home of a suspected drug lord and tycoon was conducted by a multi-agency security team though he was said to be out of the country.
Ali Punjani, the narcotics kingpin, has been on the radar of local and foreign detectives since 2010 when he was mentioned in parliament for his alleged involvement in hard drugs by the then internal security minister George Saitoti.
Media reports indicated that more than 20 police officers raided Punjani’s palatial beach home on Monday and spent hours searching for narcotics using sniffer dogs.
Johnston Ipara, Mombasa County police commander, revealed that security officers were already having names of Punjani’s associates whom they were pursuing for arrest and interrogation on the drugs trade in the coast region.
Local media outlets reported that Punjani had been admitted at a hospital in India where he sought treatment for a heart-related condition.
He was in July mentioned at a New York courtroom by Indian national, Vijaygiri Goswami as a rival to renowned Mombasa-based narcotics kingpins, Baktash Akasha and Ibrahim Akasha.
The two Akasha brothers, who inherited a vast narcotics empire from their late father, are awaiting sentencing by a New York court.
Security officers insisted that the drug war will intensify across the country despite resistance from powerful individuals involved in the illicit trade that can attract life sentence.
A senior police officer attached to a station in Lamu Island that is a world heritage site was early this week arrested and detained after facilitating release of a drug peddler and his consignment worth 50,000 Kenyan shillings (500 U.S Dollars).
Muchangi Kioi, Lamu County police commander, said the arrest of the officer who had served at his new post for one and a half years, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to eradicating narcotics trafficking in the country.
Kenyan security officers have already heightened surveillance at ports of entry and major towns in their bid to nab drug traffickers.
Sleuths from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations on Monday arrested two prison wardens after CCTV footage showed them hiding cocaine in a bathroom at Manyani Maximum Security Prison located in southeastern Kenyan county of Taita Taveta. (Xinhua)