Mombasa police hold six suspects over ivory seizures in Thailand



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MOMBASA—Kenya detectives have arrested six more suspects as authorities intensify manhunt for ivory kingpins behind seizure of ivory in Thailand and Singapore.

The six were on Monday arraigned before Mombasa court along with two people suspected to have been involved in the exportation of about 3.7 tonnes illegal ivory shipment, making it the second largest seizure in the country since 2002.

The Director Public Prosecution (DPP) had on Friday applied to have Lucy Kahoto, a Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) official and Jacob Lithare to be detained in custody for 30 days to complete investigations.

The two are accused of being behind the exportation of 511 pieces of elephant tusks that were found on April 25 in a container disguised as tea leaves transported from Mombasa to Thailand.

Thai authorities have been quoted saying part of the tusks were exhibits that were seized in Asian Market and sent back to Africa as part of international investigation.

Senior Counsel Brian Oyodo told the court that the two are main suspects in the case.

KRA Commissioner-General John Njiraini said the roles of other officials in the case were being investigated.

The Kenyan government has requested the International Police (Interpol) to issue a warrant of arrest against a Kenyan believed to be the mastermind.

Intelligence sources indicate that Samuel Jefwa is the mastermind of the ivory smuggling and had used different companies to smuggle more than 10 containers of ivory through the port of Mombasa.

The government has written to Interpol requesting its assistance, said the source.

Interpol is expected to issue a red notice on Jefwa and seek international assistance from member countries to apprehend him.

Jefwa is the director of a private-owned company, Potential Quality Supplies.

He is alleged to be hiding in Uganda.

The head of the Interpol Nairobi bureau Vitalis Okumu confirmed that the agency is in collaboration with the Kenyan agencies in probing the seized ivory.

Okumu said they are working with the office of the Directorate of Criminal Investigation but declined to reveal more information on the extent of the investigation.

Interpol was behind last year’s arrest of ivory kingpin, Feisal Mohamed who was smoked out of Tanzania after a warrant of arrest was issued.

Interpol has increased information exchange, support intelligence analysis and assist national and regional investigations, to apprehend kingpins behind ivory and drug syndicates.