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Drug barons can run but cannot hide, says Elung’ata

The on-going crackdown against drug barons and drug abuse in the coast region is bearing fruit as police arrest more key suspects.

Coast Regional Commissioner (RC) John Elung’ata confirmed that over 100 people have so far been arrested and drugs worth millions of shillings seized in various parts of the region.

“We have arrested key suspects and we are pursuing those on the run,” said Elung’ata during an interview with Kenya News Agency on Monday.

He said some key suspects and masterminds of the illicit trade have escaped to other parts of the region and a neighbouring country but added police will hunt and flush them out of their hide outs.

Over the weekend police in Mombasa arrested suspected drug traffickers and confiscated drugs which included cocaine and heroin worth Sh18 million.

Among those arrested are Said Mohamed Abdallah who has been on the police wanted list and his girlfriend Hamdi Yusuf.

The crackdown on drug barons and drug abuse gained momentum when Cabinet Secretary (SC) for Interior Dr. Fred Matiang’i visited Mombasa on August 11 and declared total war on those behind the illicit trade in Coast region.

Dr. Matiang’i said the drug problem in Mombasa and other areas of the coast region has been spoken about for far too long saying time to take painful decisions to eradicate the vice has now come.

“We are about to roll out an unprecedented operation to flush out drug peddlers in this region,” said Dr Matiang’i after chairing a meeting that brought together security chiefs and elected leaders from the region.

The CS who was accompanied by the Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai said the government will provide the necessary support to security teams to effectively combat the drug menace in the region.

He said “Kenyans are tired of promises and threats and therefore it’s time to deal with this menace head on.”

The government last week reshuffled top security chiefs in the region in what is seen as giving the latest purge on drug barons and criminal gangs more muscle.

Coast Regional Police Commander Marcus Ocholla was transferred to Rift Valley and replaced by Rashid Yakub from Western.

The reshuffle also saw Mombasa Police Commander Johnstone Ipara moved to Uasin Gishu and his place taken by Augustine Nthumbi while Mombasa County Commissioners Evans Achoki swapped stations with Gilbert Kitiyo of Marsabit.

Nthumbi immediately after taking office last week, made intensive tour of Kisauni and Nyali sub-counties which are believed to be operation bases of drug cartels.

Elung’ata said “we expect to make more arrests as we are determined to neutralise all drug barons and end this menace in this region.”

By Mohamed Hassan

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