Drugs in ship: 20 crewmembers detained in Kenya

A day after mid-day reported the recovery, in Kenya, of suspected drugs and firearms from trucks being transported from Mumbai for a UN peacekeeping mission, intelligence officials told this paper that over 20 crewmembers of the Norwegian-flagged vessel that was carrying the trucks have been detained.

White powder, suspected to be cocaine, and more than 30 firearms, including AK-47 rifles and machine guns, were found hidden inside the tyres of trucks aboard the Höegh Transporter in Mombasa. The ship’s last port of call had been Mumbai and the trucks were being sent from India for the UN peacekeeping mission in The Congo.

Sources in Indian Intelligence claimed that more than 20 crewmembers from the Norwegian vessel have been detained in Kenya. Most of the crew is Norwegian, while some are from China. The detained crewmembers include engineers, cooks, master officer and the captain and, after investigation, they may face charges in Mombasa courts.

The crew may be charged with carrying illegal firearms and prosecuted under the prevailing anti-narcotics laws in Kenya. According to Customs officials, for any vessel sailing the high seas, it is mandatory to declare weapons on board in the manifest even if they are licensed in a foreign country.

Reports related to the Höegh Transporter stated that there is no manifest of the weapons, which were found dismantled and concealed in the tyres. As per procedure, the crewmembers are supposed to give a notice to the licensing officer of the foreign country where they are headed. After verification of the arms on board, the licensing officer gives permission to carry the weapons only if they are declared in the manifest.

Mystery deepens
A UN officer attached to a drugs control unit was found dead in Mombasa a week before the MV Hoegh was seized. The Australian, Shamis Mangan, of the UN office of Drugs and Crime was found dead in his room at a five-star hotel on September 5. According to reports, Mangan, who died at 41, is survived by his Kenyan wife.

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