Authorities in Migori County have heightened patrols along the busy Kenya Tanzanian highway amidst surge in drug trafficking cases.
Police say the traffickers have taken advantage of the porous Kenyan Tanzanian border to sneak bhang into the country before it is trafficked to up markets.
The alarm comes amidst the ongoing crackdown on illicit brew following a recent directive by Deputy President Rigahthi Gachagwa.
Law enforcers in the county, acting on a tip off from members of the public have over the past impounded several sacks of bhang either on transit or hidden in sugarcane plantations.
Migori County commissioner Mr David Gitonga noted that security agencies have enhanced vigilance and are working closely with members of the public to bust a drug ring across the porous Kenya Tanzania border.
Earlier in April, police acting on a tip off impounded a probox matatu that was ferrying bhang at Wuoth Ogik area, some three kilometers from Migori town.
One occupant was arrested and a sack of bhang recovered from the motor vehicle which police say was enroute to Nairobi through Kisii town.
The incident has exposed a wave of drug trafficking along the busy highway with Migori County police commander Mr Gitonga noting that hardy can a week pass before “we crack down on drug rings.”
But with heightened police presence along the highway and vigilance at the border point with Tanzania, KTMN HAS established a well-orchestrated racket that allows bhang to easily cross into Kenya through porous border points with cartels fast changing tact in plying the illegal business.
To avoid bumping on police officers along the porous Kopanga, Ntimaru and Muhuru border points, where bhang worth hundreds of millions of shillings is often smuggled into the country, cartels collude with drivers of heavy commercial vehicles to cross into the country.
Kogaja town in the Roria District in neighboring Tanzania lies about a Kilometer from the Kenyan border.
The town is reputed as one of the leading bhang growing zones in Tanzania with Police classifying it as the main source of marijuana that is imported into Kenya.
“We have on several occasions impounded huge consignments and hardly can a day go before we burst a drug trafficking ring especially along the busy Isebania-Kisii-Nairobi highway,” confided a sleuth who sought anonymity owing to sensitivity of the matter.”Migori County Commisioner David Gitonga
“The main challenge is the new tactic that they are currently employing to beat the police dragnet but we have started profiling the criminals with the support from local administration.”
Of concern is the entry of minors into the illegal trade with parents crying foul about school going children being recruited into peddling bhang.
One of the affected parents from Pand Pieri estate in the outskirts of Migori town noted that children as young as 12 years were being used to transport the drugs in school bags to various destinations across the town.
“I have on two occasions busted my son with bhang stashed in his school bag. I got curious as to whether he could come home tired. His bag also had a strange smell. I confronted him only to realize that he had been recruited into the business,”Judith Achieng
Further cross examination led Judith to a notorious drug den in Pand Pieri estate where a group of school boys were smoking bhang.
“I feared confronting them so I reported the matter to Migori Police station,” she said.
The ring allows bhang to easily cross into Kenya through porous border points in Migori County before it finds its way into major towns through the busy Isebania-Kisii-Nairobi.
Once the consignment crosses into the county, it is often repackaged onto brooms and stones which dealers say are easier to transport.
There are also talifs (bhang rolled into pipes) which are often stashed into school bags.
“The talifs are easily transported by students, especially those in day schools as they can hardly be noticed by law enforcers. We pay Sh 200 for every successful delivery,” said one of the dealers only identified as Biggy.
Apart from the juveniles used in drug business, police are also working to unearth a new syndicate of drug peddlers using coffins to ferry the drugs in bulk.
“We have enhanced vigilance along highways and closely working with the local administrators to provide intelligence information on suspected drug traffickers. Drug dealing in Migori is becoming a menace owing to our proximity to Tanzania where bhang is grown as a cash crop,” Mr Gitonga said.
He noted that the ready market in Kenya coupled with high unemployment had seen more youths delve into drugs.
“Smuggling of contrabands are on the rise in the area with the culprits taking advantage of the wide stretch of the Kenya-Tanzania border to beat police dragnet.
The war on drug has however been an arduous tact with some of the residents accusing police officers of colluding with cartels.
Sources say the some officers charge protection fees and often tip off the cartels of impending raids.
Under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act, 1994,Drug trafficking may attract a penalty of up to ten years imprisonment, a fine of up to Sh 10 million or both, depending on the seriousness of the offence.
|“A person who traffics in any narcotic drug or psychotropic shall be guilty of an offence and liable— to a fine of one million shillings or three times the market value of the narcotic drug or psychotropic substance, whichever is the greater, and in addition, to imprisonment for life..,” reads part of the act.|