Port, tax of­fi­cials probed over ivory smug­gling to Viet­nam

Mom­basa port of­fi­cials al­legedly col­luded with clear­ing agents to slip out two con­tain­ers des­tined for Cam­bo­dia. One tonne of ivory was siezed in Viet­nam

The Star (Kenya) - - Counties Coast - CALVIN ONSARIGO @kalvo­honsa

Se­nior Kenya Ports Au­thor­ity and Kenya Rev­enue Au­thor­ity of­fi­cers are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated over ivory smug­gling to Viet­nam.

The latest known seizure of an ivory con­sign­ment was smug­gled from the Port of Mom­basa to Viet­nam, en route to Cam­bo­dia Doc­u­ments ob­tained by the Star in­di­cate se­nior cus­toms of­fi­cials col­luded with clear­ing agents to clear two con­tain­ers la­beled as a tim­ber con­sign­ment.

It was hid­den in hol­lowed-out logs and blocks of tim­ber that were sealed.

The con­tain­ers, with one tonne of ivory, were in­ter­cepted by Viet­namese au­thor­i­ties at the Cat Lai Port in the south­ern com­mer­cial hub of Ho Chi Minh City, the county’s cap­i­tal.

Ac­cord­ing to au­thor­i­ties, the ivory was des­tined for Cam­bo­dia through Viet­nam.

KRA South­ern Re­gion se­nior assistant com­mis­sioner Fatma Yusuf yes­ter­day said they are aware of the seizure and are in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

“We can­not di­vulge more in­for­ma­tion, as it might in­ter­fere with the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” she said.

Re­ports in­di­cate in­ves­ti­ga­tors, in­clud­ing In­ter­pol de­tec­tives, have ob­tained in­for­ma­tion about KPA of­fi­cials com­plicit in the clear­ance.

Head of In­ter­pol Julius Martin said they will as­sist the govern­ment, when con­tacted, in trac­ing in­di­vid­u­als be­hind the in­ter­na­tional syn­di­cate.

Last week, In­ter­pol is­sued an in­ter­na­tional ar­rest war­rant for two main sus­pects be­hind Sh570 mil­lion ivory seized in Sin­ga­pore in April last year.

The red alert was is­sued for broth­ers Sa­muel Je­fwa and Ni­cholas Je­fwa, who al­legedly col­luded with cus­tom of­fi­cials to smug­gle the ivory hid­den within tea in 40-foot con­tain­ers.

Sources say sev­eral cus­tom of­fi­cials are lined up for ques­tion­ing this week, as pres­sure mounts on de­tec­tives from the re­cently es­tab­lished multi-agency unit at the Mom­basa port to give a re­port on the syn­di­cate.

/JOHN CHESOLI

Con­tain­ers at the Port of Mom­basa on Au­gust 14

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