KRA Busts Cartel Hiding Drugs in Rotting Skin in Mombasa

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) uncovered findings following investigations into suspicious operations at the port of Mombasa.

Following a tip-off regarding a syndicate involved in exporting hides and skins, KRA officers dug deeper and found ties to a drug smuggling route cutting across several countries.

“The raw hide is said to be left to rot inside closed containers to produce a strong stench that few can come close to,” the KRA report reads in part.

The use of raw and stinking hides and skin, apart from providing easy camouflage for the drugs, is also said to be a lucrative tax evasion mechanism.

The port of Mombasa.

The port of Mombasa.


According to the findings made by KRA, the scheme led to the loss of more than Ksh100 million in taxes in a year.

By the time the investigators were wrapping up their report, 43 such consignments had passed through the port of Mombasa with an understated weight by 325,344 metric tonnes.

The detectives started their investigation after observing a suspicious cargo of raw hides coming from South Sudan, passing through the port of Mombasa, heading to Colombo in Sri Lanka, while the final destination was indicated as Nigeria. 

The Indian Ocean island nation located off the southern tip of India and known to be a key transit hub for international drug traffickers.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that at least 30,000 citizens of the island nation are in jail over drug-related charges.

The taxman is now probing seven clearing and forwarding firms whose names came up during the investigations thereby tying them to possible drug trafficking.

The cartel is also said to have been exporting empty containers as transit cargo to Sri Lanka.

These containers were found to be marked with fake electronic seals that renders tracking them impossible.

“The electronic seal affixed on the vehicle was not genuine and did not produce information on the armed consignment,” the investigators wrote.

In October 2019, Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai announced that drug barons were now importing the narcotics mainly for the local market.

He went to state that those behind the trade were rich and powerful and called for concerted efforts to address the menace.

The most trafficked and abused narcotics include cocaine, heroin and other psychotropic substances.

At the same time, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i revealed that security agencies were actively investigating 30 cases of drug trafficking targeting prominent personalities in the coast region.

Interior CS Fred Matiang'i addressing the press after a meeting with Governors on Thursday, February 20, 2020.

Interior CS Fred Matiang’i addressing the press after a meeting with Governors on Thursday, February 20, 2020.


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