MOMBASA (Xinhua) — Kenyan authorities have been interrogating a tycoon based in the coastal city of Mombasa over alleged smuggling of ivory seized in Thailand and Singapore in April and May respectively.
Mombasa County police commander Robert Kitur said the suspect, Abdurahman Mohammed Sheikh, was arrested on Wednesday night by a team of detectives appointed by Director of Public Prosecution to probe the sneaking of ivory through the port of Mombasa.
Kitur said Sheikh’s two sons were also arrested in their palatial home by the detectives.
“It’s a major breakthrough in war against poaching in the country.
“We are still pursuing more suspects behind these syndicates who include the exporters who remain at large,” Kitur told Xinhua in Mombasa.
He said investigation indicates that Sheikh was allegedly behind the shipping of 3.7 tonnes that were seized in Singapore and 511 elephant tusks seized in Thailand respectively.
According to investigation, the suspect had rented a house in the city’s Nyali area where the ivory was loaded into containers after it was diverted to port of Mombasa from a warehouse.
The 511 pieces of ivory was found on April 25 in a container disguised as tea leaves transported from Mombasa to Thailand.
Kenya’s Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Natural Resources grilled on Wednesday top Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officials on how the seizure was sneaked from the port of Mombasa undetected.
Head Security at the port of Mombasa Mohammed Morowa said the facility lacks adequate scanners to effectively investigate and curb smuggling of contraband goods at the port.
Morowa told the committee that it has only one scanner that serves the entire port, making it difficult to perform their duties effectively.
“We are appealing for the government to allocate more funds for purchasing of Rapid Scanners at the port.
“It’s a major challenge affecting efficiency of security units at the port,” Morowa said.