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Monday, April 28, 2014

Standard Digital News - Kenya : Envoy summoned over Sh25 billion drug haul

Standard Digital News - Kenya : Envoy summoned over Sh25 billion drug haul

Kenya: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has summoned Australian High Commissioner to Kenya over the seizure of a huge heroin haul off the Kenya Coast by Australian Navy valued at Sh25 billion.

Ministry officials say the envoy is expected to meet with Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed among other Kenya senior State officials and explain if he has any information about the matter. Details on the summoning were scanty but sources told The Standard that Kenya was in the dark on the seizure of the one tonne of heroin on a suspicious sailing boat.

Crew from the HMAS Darwin boarded the wooden boat east of Kenya and discovered 46 sacks of heroin hidden among bags of cement. It is believed the vessel found with the haul is one of two notorious vessels used for illegal trade along the East African Coast and is partly owned by Kenyans. The two boats, according to our sources, are said to be predominantly used along the East Africa coast and have been tracked from Somalia. It has also emerged that the Kenya Government was kept in the dark over the operation to seize the drug to limit any prospects of information leaking out. The drugs consignment was seized by the Royal Australian Frigate—HMAS Darwin—and destroyed at sea

Multiple source in the maritime sector say the boat carrying the heroin was being monitored by the international naval forces operating in the Indian Ocean for almost a year. The Australian Department of Defence said the vessel was seized by the Australian Navy 27 nautical miles off Mombasa but our sources say that the exact point of arrest was less than 30 nautical miles off Malindi or Lamu. “The vessel was between Somali and Kenyan waters and the plan was to load the consignment into the second vessel that was stationed at the same point,” said the source.

Reports indicate that although Kenyan authorities are adamant that the heroin was seized out of the country’s territorial waters, maritime sources indicate in unconfirmed reports that the seizure was actually inside the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which is 200 nautical miles long. Kenyan police patrol up to 12 nautical miles into the Indian Ocean but Kenya Navy is required to operate the remaining part of the 200 nautical miles. The navy is, however, largely handicapped, as it cannot make arrest if there is no police officer on board.

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