The British Royal Navy this week seized illicit drugs worth Sh8.6 billion on a fishing dhow the Indian Ocean. The drug haul is suspected to have been destined to East Africa.
Commander Ian Feasey of the HMS Monmouth ship, which docked on Friday morning at the Mombasa port, said the haul included 445 kg of cannabis and 266 kg of heroin hidden in the fishing vessel’s deep freezer.
“Such a substantial seizure of drugs deals a significant blow to the international narcotics trade which is known to provide funding for terrorist organisations,” Mr Feasey told journalists.
Lieutenant Commander Mike King said they were unable to establish the nationality of the transporters of the drugs since none of them had passports and other travelling documents.
“They were absolutely false fishermen who lacked passports to tell their nationalities and every bit of what they told us was falsehood,” Lt CDR King said.
Commander Feasey further said several teams of navy personnel were sent immediately after the dhow was spotted in an area nominally known for fishing.
“The teams spent 60 hours scouring the vessel for narcotics, before eventually finding them hidden in a freezer beneath three tonnes of ice,” Captain Feasey said.
He indicated that the 11 sailors aboard the vessel had forged manifests that could not specify the port of origin and the final destination, making it difficult for them to prosecute them.
“We took the drugs into HMS Monmouth, weighed and photographed before unwrapping the whole consignment and dumping the drugs into the sea to stop them from being used to finance organised crime and terrorism and destroy stability of this region,” Captain Feasey said.
The British Royal Navy warship was deployed for a nine-month operation that started in March to combat illegal drugs between Middle East and East African countries.
British High Commissioner Nic Hailey, who visited the 225 navy sailors, said the proceeds of the haul, had it not been detected, would have been used to finance criminal activities in the countries around the Indian Ocean.
“It’s a massive achievement. We are also working together with Kenya Navy at the border with Somalia to protect the maritime border, so that people will not smuggle illegal weapons. It is a symbol of a growing defence relationship between Kenya and British Navy,” Mr Hailey said.