Keep Us Strong WikiLeaks logo

Currently released so far... 5408 / 251,287

Articles

Browse latest releases

Browse by creation date

Browse by origin

A B C D F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z

Browse by tag

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
QA
YM YI YE

Browse by classification

Community resources

courage is contagious

Viewing cable 08NAIROBI2671, DRUG TRAFFICKING ON THE RISE IN KENYA

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Understanding cables
Every cable message consists of three parts:
  • The top box shows each cables unique reference number, when and by whom it originally was sent, and what its initial classification was.
  • The middle box contains the header information that is associated with the cable. It includes information about the receiver(s) as well as a general subject.
  • The bottom box presents the body of the cable. The opening can contain a more specific subject, references to other cables (browse by origin to find them) or additional comment. This is followed by the main contents of the cable: a summary, a collection of specific topics and a comment section.
To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.

Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol). Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #08NAIROBI2671.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08NAIROBI2671 2008-11-26 12:12 2011-03-02 22:10 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Nairobi
VZCZCXRO1065
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHNR #2671/01 3311216
ZNY CCCCC ZZH(CCY ADX001FB89 MSI3082)
P 261216Z NOV 08 ZDS
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7731
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY 0316
RUEHRY/AMEMBASSY CONAKRY PRIORITY 0001
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM PRIORITY 6183
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI PRIORITY 5457
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA PRIORITY 3044
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM PRIORITY 2221
RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA PRIORITY 1958
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2977
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2870
RUEAWJA/DOJ WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEHNA/DEA HQS WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA  PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 NAIROBI 002671 
 
C O R R E C T E D  C O P Y (TEXT PARA 10) 
 
SIPDIS 
 
AF/E FOR SUSAN DRIANO, INL FOR JAVIER CORDOVA AND ANDY 
BURNETT 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/25/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV KCRM KCOR KJUS SNAR UK UG KE
SUBJECT: DRUG TRAFFICKING ON THE RISE IN KENYA 
 
REF: NAIROBI 2035 
 
NAIROBI 00002671  001.4 OF 004 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Michael E. Ranneberger, reasons 1.4 (b,d). 
 
1.  (SBU) SUMMARY: On November 21, the British High 
Commission convened a mini-Dublin Group meeting in Nairobi to 
discuss the state of the drug problem in Kenya.  The meeting 
was attended by representatives of one of Kenya's three 
police services, the director of the Kenyan government's 
anti-drug program, and a number of interested diplomatic 
missions.  Trafficking of narcotics through Kenya continues 
to grow, as does the number of local addicts.  Police often 
lack the capacity and training to interdict illegal drugs. 
Those officers who do make drug-related arrests are often 
thwarted by corrupt members of their own departments.  The 
government appears to lack political will to address the 
subject, especially on the supply side. End summary. 
 
2. (C) At the mini-Dublin Group meeting convened at the 
British High Commission on November 21, government of Kenya 
(GOK) officials made presentations about the state of the 
drug problem.  Unfortunately, representatives from the Kenya 
Police Service (KPS), which has the primary responsibility 
for counter-narcotics efforts, did not attend the meeting. 
Once the Kenyan representatives departed, the international 
missions had a candid discussion about what assistance could 
usefully be absorbed, the potential drawbacks and benefits in 
providing such assistance, and the extent to which official 
corruption contributes to drug trafficking in Kenya. 
 
-------------------------------------- 
TRAFFICKING AND DRUG ABUSE ON THE RISE 
-------------------------------------- 
 
3. (SBU) Staff Officer XXXXXXXXXXXX, presenting for the 
Kenya Administration Police (AP), attributed the rise in drug 
use by Kenyans in part to the economy, saying that users turn 
to drugs as an escape from increasingly desperate personal 
situations.  (Note: Following the post-election violence and 
resulting economic downturn, an estimated 55 percent of 
Kenyans live on less than a dollar a day; the official 
unemployment rate is 50 percent and is markedly higher among 
youth. End note.)  XXXXXXXXXXXX noted a marked increase in drug 
trafficking by sea to a number of remote islands in the Lamu 
archipelago off Kenya's north coast (including Faza and Pate 
islands), as well as in smaller coastal towns like Shimoni 
and Vanga on the south coast.  He also cited the Kenya-Uganda 
border as another significant entry point, especially for 
locally-grown marijuana.  XXXXXXXXXXXX expressed concern that, when 
police made drug arrests, judges were often imposing only 
fines (which traffickers can easily pay) or very minimal 
sentences.  He noted the need for all law enforcement 
officers nationwide to be trained in identification of 
illicit drugs, as well as the need for additional detection 
equipment.  At present, XXXXXXXXXXXX added, only the 100-person KPS 
Anti-Narcotics Unit (which has to cover the entire country) 
is regularly trained in drug identification. 
 
4. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX of the GOK's National 
Campaign Against Drug Abuse Authority (NACADAA), then made a 
presentation focusing on the GOK's demand reduction and 
treatment efforts.  XXXXXXXXXXXX 's staff is currently working with 
other government ministries and departments to develop 
anti-drug units to conduct awareness programs in the 
workplace, as well as specialized programs in the Ministries 
of Education, Defense, Health, and Youth Affairs.  To date, 
they have trained officials in Western, Nairobi, and Central 
provinces to run awareness programs; additional training is 
scheduled in December in North Eastern and Coast provinces. 
XXXXXXXXXXXX stressed the urgent need to involve policy makers and 
politicians in national anti-drug efforts.  XXXXXXXXXXXX described a 
notable lack of political will and public silence from 
leaders on the issue, which she attributed in part to 
 
NAIROBI 00002671  002.3 OF 004 
 
 
official complicity in and profit from drug trafficking. 
 
5. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX confirmed the assessment of AP colleagues 
that the extent of drug abuse among Kenyans is growing 
quickly.  Narcotics in Kenya are highly pure (usually above 
80 percent), readily available, and relatively inexpensive. 
A quarter gram of heroin costs between 100 and 200 Ksh 
($1.25-$2.50).  Even at these low prices, however, most 
addicts quickly have to turn to crime to support their 
habits. XXXXXXXXXXXX cited the example of tiny Faza island, where 
in recent months about 10 people per week have either died of 
heroin overdoses or been killed because they were stealing to 
get money for drugs.  Since 2005, NACADAA has been monitoring 
approximately 25,000 intravenous drug users (IVDUs) in Kenya. 
 In a recent survey, ten percent of them admitted to 
injecting drugs in the last six months.  XXXXXXXXXXXX said that the 
GOK's political leaders had "completely refused to deal with 
the drug issue."  NACADAA was established in 2001; its 
highest budget before this fiscal year (in which it received 
210 million Ksh or $1.5 million) was 60 million Ksh 
($760,000). 
 
---------------------------- 
MIRAA: KENYA'S GATEWAY DRUG? 
---------------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) The GOK representatives agreed that Kenyans involved 
in the domestic miraa or khat industry do not generally trade 
in illegal drugs.  (Khat, or miraa as it is called in 
Kiswahili, is legal in Kenya.)  Most miraa grown in Kenya is 
exported to Somalia or Djibouti, but some is consumed 
domestically, including by long-distance truckers, bus 
drivers, and members of the security forces.  In the Mount 
Kenya miraa growing region, the trade is accompanied by heavy 
alcohol use (including the illegal brewing of changa or 
homemade beer) and an associated increase in domestic 
violence and family instability.  XXXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXX agreed 
that miraa users sometimes progress to other drug use. 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
POLICE UNDERSTAFFED, UNDERTRAINED, UNDERPAID 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) The KPS, which has primary jurisdiction over 
counter-narcotics efforts, has only 100 officers in its 
national Anti-Narcotics Unit.  The AP does not have an 
official mandate for counter-narcotics, but often is the 
first police agency to uncover problems due to its extensive 
deployment at the local level as well as its coverage of 
Kenya's borders, airports, and ports.  The GOK has recently 
doubled the intake of new trainees into the police services 
(the KPS, AP, and Kenya Wildlife Service) to try and close 
the gap between the current and desired police to citizen 
ratio, but much work remains to ensure these new recruits 
(and current officers) have adequate training and equipment 
to intercept illegal drugs. 
 
---------------------------- 
INCREASED SEIZURES IN EUROPE 
---------------------------- 
 
7. (C) The UK representative reported interdiction of 
significant amounts of heroin and cocaine in Europe via 
Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).  The 
purity of the heroin and cocaine trafficked through Kenya 
typically exceeds 80 percent.  At a local wholesale price of 
just $12,000-16,000 per kilo versus $50,000 in the UK (before 
the drugs are cut with fillers for retail sale), trafficking 
in Kenya's low risk, high profit environment is an attractive 
proposition for drug smugglers.  In 2006 and 2007, law 
enforcement authorities in a number of European countries, 
Canada, the United States and Australia seized 250 kilos of 
heroin and cocaine imported by drug couriers.  To date in 
 
NAIROBI 00002671  003.3 OF 004 
 
 
2008, European authorities have intercepted 12 mules (two of 
whom were Americans) who traveled via JKIA.  The mules were 
carrying an average of three to ten kilos of narcotics 
(mostly cocaine) per person.  Drug traffickers in Kenya are 
mainly recruiting white expatriate residents of Kenya and 
Uganda as mules because they are believed to attract less 
attention from western law enforcement authorities.  (Note: 
However, traffickers have also recruited non-white Kenyans 
who possess valid U.S. visas.  For example, in April a 
middle-aged Kenyan employee of the Peace Corps, was arrested 
at John F. Kennedy International Airport carrying 2 kilograms 
of heroin and convicted of trafficking.  End Note.)  The 
mules generally travel business class and take indirect 
routes to their destinations (i.e. 
Nairobi-Zurich-Berlin-London instead of Nairobi-London). 
They are paid about $6,000 per trip.  Most couriers who have 
been intercepted have admitted to making five or more trips 
in the last year. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
COCAINE, METHAMPHETAMINE ON THE INCREASE 
---------------------------------------- 
 
8. (C) Although Kenya has traditionally been a transit 
country for heroin, cocaine seizures have increased steadily 
since 2004. Cocaine arrives in west Africa via sea and air, 
and is then distributed onwards to Kenya and elsewhere with 
easier access to the west. According to the UK, Guinea in 
particular is becoming an "international narcostate" with an 
economy increasingly based on drug smuggling.  The UNODC 
estimates that 300 tons of cocaine a year enter sub-Saharan 
Africa, and an additional 70 tons were seized by European law 
enforcement agencies in international waters in 2007. 
Smuggling of pseudoephedrine (a precursor drug for the 
manufacture of methamphetamine) from India and China is also 
on the rise, as is the proliferation of local labs producing 
methamphetamine for export in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and 
the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In 2007, officials 
seized 40 tons of pseudoephedrine from a lab in DRC. 
 
---------- 
CORRUPTION 
---------- 
 
8. (C) Western law enforcement officials believe that 
corruption is definitely a factor in drug trafficking in 
Kenya.  One mule was interdictd in the UK with nothing in 
his carry-on bag except 9 kilos of cocaine.  He had either 
bribed airport officials at JKIA to bypass security checks, 
or had passed through two security checks without attracting 
attention.  Representatives of the UN Office on Drugs and 
Crime (UNODC) noted that most traffickers pay local officials 
for protection.  Officers in places like Lamu who arrest 
traffickers may be threatened or killed.  Traffickers can 
easily afford to bribe law enforcement officials, and the 
highly lucrative legal miraa trade benefits local politicians 
financially, removing any incentive to combat the problem. 
 
---------- 
NEXT STEPS 
---------- 
 
9. (C) When asked about the most critical next steps in 
tackling drugs in Kenya, XXXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXX agreed that, in 
order of importance, the GOK needs to: (1) demonstrate 
high-level political commitment to dealing with the 
seriousness of the problem and its negative impact on Kenyan 
society; (2) focus on supply issues by strengthening the 
criminal justice system and toughening legislation; and, 
(3)provide more resources for treatment and rehabilitation 
for addicts. 
 
------- 
 
NAIROBI 00002671  004.3 OF 004 
 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
10. (C) While Kenyan law enforcement bodies clearly need to 
build capacity, there is a very real concern that the extent 
of corruption is so pervasive that increased law enforcement 
training may have the perverse effect of assisting traffickers 
to refine their methods to better avoid detection and 
prosecution.  The dismal human rights records of both the AP 
and KPS during the post-election violence and in other 
operations against local militias in the Nairobi, Mount Elgon 
and Mandera regions also raise questions about the international 
community's ability to support Kenyan law enforcement 
organizations. The Ambassador and Mission team will continue 
to raise the issue of drug trafficking at the highest levels of 
the GOK (including urging high-level participation at the next 
International Day against Drug Abuse. In addition to INL's 
forthcoming training for drug treatment counselors in Kenya, 
we continue to support coastal and port security initiatives 
and training for police and prosecutors. We also continue to 
lobby for the passage of the anti-money laundering bill 
currently under consideration in Parliament. 
End comment. 
 
RANNEBERGER