Anti narcotics police on Tuesday recovered 341.7 kgs of heroin tucked in a diesel tank on a ship at the port of Mombasa, they said, the largest single seizure of the drugs at the port city, accused of being a transit point of illegal drug substances and other contraband.
The ship, MV Bushehr Amin Darya which police said was stateless, was captured in high seas last week after police received intelligence reports from sources they did not disclose, that the ship may have been carrying drugs, and was headed for the port of Mombasa, Hamisi Masha, anti-narcotics police chief for Coast region, told journalists at the port.
He said the haul had a street value of over 1.1 billion shillings.
Nine suspects on board the ship were arrested and detained when the ship was impounded last week, and included six Pakistanis, two Indians and an Iranian while one other suspect died on the ship, Masha said.
“We recovered some 900 grams of the heroin when we searched the ship last week and this gave us the indication there could be more, so we searched further and today we have recovered a further 341.7 kgs,” Masha said.
“In total we have 342.67 kgs of heroin which could fetch over 1.1 billion shillings on the black market.”
He said they confirmed the seizure was heroin after testing in government laboratories.
“The ship is big, so we will search even further; we think there could be more.”
Courts in Mombasa allowed police to detain the suspects, and Masha said they had gotten sufficient evidence to charge them formally on Wednesday.
Police were seeking owners of the ship, an exercise that involved grilling the suspects and communication with police from overseas countries suspected to be the origin of the drugs, the police chief, said.
In April an Australian warship patrolling the Indian Ocean seized more than a tonne of heroin worth 268 million dollars from a dhow in Kenyan waters which they destroyed.
There has been a surge in the volumes of heroin trafficked through eastern Africa in the past few years, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Heroin is typically routed through the region, known for its porous borders and weak maritime surveillance – from Pakistan and Iran on its way to Europe.