Business, Economics and Jobs

US concerned about Kenyan drugs trade, plans DEA office


Kenya has become a hub for the international drug trade, according to a new U.S. report. Here six suspects arrested in Mombasa stand behind 432 pounds of heroin in bags seized by Kenyan police.


Tony Karumba

Kenya is a hub for the international drugs trade, according to a new United States State Department report.

“The trafficking of narcotics in and through Kenya is a major and growing problem that has permeated all strata of the society,” according to the latest report on the global drugs trade by the State Department that has been presented to the U.S. Congress.

The report warns that hard drugs are being trafficked in Kenya. Heroin, in particular, is reaching East Africa from the poppy fields of central Asia and then being smuggled on to the United States, according to the report. The report reveals that “the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is in the process of opening a country office in Nairobi.”

The beefing up of capacity shows the extent of U.S. concern about the drugs trade through East Africa and the corrosive effect it has in Kenya itself.

“Drug trafficking is linked to the prevailing culture of impunity, and presents serious ramifications to the nation’s health, security, and stability,” states the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.

“Kenya is a significant transit country for a host of illegal narcotics, including heroin and cocaine,” says the report.

According to a recently published report by the International Narcotics Control Board, an estimated 35 tons of heroin is smuggled into Africa every year, “mainly through the major airports of Addis Ababa and Nairobi.” The Vienna-based group says that 25 tons of this is for consumption by Africa’s 1.2 million addicts.

“Narcotics trafficking is a grave reflection of the culture of impunity which pervades Kenya,” said U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger in a speech in November.

He went on to accuse five Kenyans, including politicians, of involvement in the drugs trade.

“Based on reliable and corroborative reports, we have taken steps to ensure that that four senior government officials and one prominent businessman will be permanently prevented from entering the US for business or tourism,” said Ranneberger.

The names, which have not been revealed publicly, have been forwarded to the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission.