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'Investigate foreigners in private villas'

14 June 2013, 18:49 Bob Ndwiga

Campaigners against narcotic drugs abuse and trafficking in Malindi yesterday asked the government to launch investigations into the operations of some foreigners in private villas and cottages.

The activists noted that illicit business related to sex tourism and abuse of narcotics was rampant in villas and cottages and investigating any such claims in most instances was being misinterpreted to mean that the police or activists were harassing tourists.

The campaigners, led by the chairman of the Maarufu Anti Drugs Campaign Organization, expressed suspicion that some foreigners who owned some of the villas could be large-scale dealers in narcotics drugs mainly because the activities inside the establishments remained highly secretive.

“Villas and cottages are usually managed in very secretive ways and despite widespread suspicion confirmed through several reports by workers of such villas, it has always been hard for the police or us to raid such establishments for fear that we shall be accused of harassing tourists,” said Famau.

In a statement issued to the Press in Malindi, Famau activists fighting traffickers and abusers said they faced many challenges mainly because those involved in drug trafficking never directly handled the substances and hence were viewed as innocent people even by the authorities and the police.

Malindi, Watamu and Ngomeni, Famau said, recorded at least three cases of new peddlers into the illicit industry but arresting such culprits was impossible mainly because the police were ill equipped to handle the new cases due lack of transport and quick response to reports.

The activist said that large-scale traffickers of drugs had a way of changing peddlers so as to cover their business and that way, even the police and activists always had a challenge dealing with the menace.

He called on the government to start funding the rehabilitation drug addicts especially in the Kilifi County where cases were on the increase.

Malindi area, he said, was the worst affected by drugs with at least 1,500 young people already classified as having reached the dangerous level of addiction to narcotics especially white crest, cocaine and heroin.

Famau said that cocaine and heroin were mainly the drugs of the wealthy and able, and their use was mainly done in private villas and cottages where entry by the police and activists was not easy.

He said that with the entry of pornographic video and movie shooting penetrating the tourism industry in Malindi, foreigners could be using the drugs to confuse young women and men to participate in sex video shooting.

The worst thing, he said was that after being introduced to narcotics unknowingly, those involved in the shooting or participating in pornographic videos and movies most ended in addiction.

“These villas and cottage should not be left to operate so freely and in secrecy; they are killing good tourism in Malindi and eventually destroying a large number of innocent young people who fall into drugs, addiction and finally frustration and petty crime,” said Famau.

Famau, who has been in the activism for more than 15 years and whose son at one time fell into addiction but was successfully rehabilitated, complained that the government has not been strong in dealing with drug abuse and should create roots and a foundation to fight narcotics at the grassroots level through the County governments.

Malindi, he said, reported at least three cases of drug related deaths in a month, but no research or studies were being encouraged or done even by the experts to realize how bad the situation was.

“Many families in Shella and Maweni have lost their children in the growing narcotics drug related ailments, yet the children are just laid to rest in the local cemeteries and the stories forgotten; we cannot continue operating like thi,” said Famau.

The activist said that although his organization mobilized volunteers to undertake awareness campaigns against drug abuse among the youth in Malindi, campaigns were affected by lack of government support through funding and expertise especially from the ministry of health.

The worst scenario presently, he said, was that drugs were now entering primary schools with some pupils as young as 12 years old having been identified as having started to use white crest.

“We have held many forums in schools and with parents and the youth, but drugs remained highly available in the market hence our fear is that more young people are being enticed into abuse of narcotics and this way the number of addicts is bound to grow maybe to unbearable level,” cautioned Famau.

Malindi, Watamu and Mambrui, according to Famau, hosts more than 15 key well known narcotic drug dealers, but arresting them remained a complicated affair due to the way they change peddlers and hide the drugs.

He also expressed fears that some of the traffickers have links with some corrupt police officers who perhaps protected them unknowingly.

Famau also challenged the government to come up with ways of controlling the selling of Miraa to underage children warning that the drug though mild remained at times more addictive than hard drugs and because it could be accessed easily in the streets of urban centres in Kilifi County, it was now becoming the preferred drug among the youth.

“We want the government to control Miraa peddling in the streets of Malindi, Watamu, Kilifi and Ngomeni among other areas,” said Famau.

The Kilifi County deputy commissioner Joshua Nkanatha admitted that there was need to investigate the villas and cottages and clarified that the government has already launched a major campaign to identify hot spots where narcotics were being sold or used.

“I have been very firm and I have already formed a strong security team to undertake thorough investigations on any suspected drug traffickers with an aim of arresting such suspects and prosecuting them,” said the deputy commissioner.

He said that he had also formed forums to work with volunteers now campaigning against drug trafficking and abuse expressing optimism that they would succeed in dealing with menace.

The deputy commissioner asked Malindi residents to report those suspected to be involved in trafficking of drugs, warning that leaving the traffickers to continue operating in Malindi would eventually destroyed their children.

This comes just a day after a Malindi businessman Omar Kassim asked the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo to ensure that campaigns against narcotics drug traffickers at the Coast were intensified through the sending a special team to investigate some foreigners believed to be involved in illicit business in Malindi.

Kassim suggested that a special anti-narcotics team be send to Malindi to investigate a group of European suspected to undertake large-scale trafficking of narcotics.

He alleged that there were about five foreigners holed up in Malindi whose real businesses remained unknown yet they enjoyed questionable lifestyles full of luxury and secrecy without being involved in any open commerce or known businesses.

He said that the orders by President Uhuru Kenyatta that foreigners suspected to be involved in drugs be investigated and deported should cover areas like Mtwapa and Malindi.

“Malindi is known to be a centre of drug traffickers and with the highest amount of cocaine having been recovered in villas in the town; the order by President Uhuru should cover Malindi and with haste to ensure that the suspected European drug traffickers did not take cover,” said  Kassim.

Foreigners, Kassim said were to blame for the drugs related deaths in Malindi where cases of addicts dying of various illnesses were on the increase.

He wondered why it was only in Malindi where some foreigners with questionable backgrounds including links with some Nairobi based traffickers who had even been deported were being left free to do whatever they wanted.

“Which country allows foreigners who are linked with friends known to be drug traffickers to freely do whatever they liked and to even influence young people enter the business?” wondered Kassim

“Foreigners suspected to be involved in narcotic drugs peddling in Malindi should be prosecuted and then deported back to their countries,” said Kassim, adding that the European traffickers had recruited a large number of young people now peddling drugs even to innocent primary school children.

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