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How police busted Sh370m ivory suspect

A Nakumatt supermarket receipt left at a house in Mombasa’s Nyali estate led to the arrest of the main suspect behind the Sh370 million ivory haul seized in Singapore last month.

The Tanzanian, Mr Said Juma Said, who uses multiple names and has both Kenyan and Tanzanian ID papers, had rented the house  where detectives believe the initial consignment of tea was replaced with ivory.

An X-ray of the container done in Thailand showed that the ivory was put into the containers after their bottoms  were cut. Mr Said, according to the detectives, was assisted by Mr Nicholas Mweri Jefwa, a former employee of Siginon Freight who is still on the run.

When the investigating team raided the house, they recovered a number of items including ivory chips, an electric cutter and the receipt.

They established that the receipt was issued by Nakumatt’s Likoni branch, where a purchase was done using a Nakumatt Smart card registered in the name of Sheikh Mahmoud Abdulrahaman.

It was then that other details on him, including his Kenyan ID number, telephone number and Tanzanian passport number were obtained.

The Immigration department, however, later confirmed that the passport and the photos belonged to Mr Said Juma Said, who also used the name Abdulrahaman Mahmoud Sheikh, the main suspect.

IVORY CHIPS
He had travelled to Nairobi, Mombasa and through the Lunga Lunga border point. The same telephone line had been used to register access to ports on August 1, 2014 for a period of two years.

Some of the ivory is believed to have been brought from Tanzania on February 17. According to an entry permit dated the same day, a Tanzanian-registered vehicle that allegedly delivered pineapples to Kongowea could have been used to transport the ivory haul.

Mr Said is also said to own a fleet of cars and a four-storey building in in Majengo.
In Tanzania, he is the director of a family company, Funzi Island, and is also believed to operate a transport company.

On Friday, Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet said the ivory chips and electric cutter were taken to the Kenya Wildlife Service laboratory for analysis.

The detectives have also established the movements of the containers prior to the seizure. According to the police, container FCIU5235796, which was seized in Thailand left Mombasa on April 6 while container FCIU5085401, found in Singapore, left Mombasa on April 19.

TEA FOR EXPORT

It all started in September last year when Mr  Jefwa contacted Almasi Chai (K) Ltd to procure 66 tonnes of tea for export in six batches of 11 tonnes.

On March 19 this year, Mr Jefwa approached Rais Shipping Services (K) Ltd to export the consignment. The forwarding agent was indicated as Siginon Freight and the consignee was Keshav Trader, Dubai.

On March 20, a driver identified as Kenneth Njuguna Mwangi picked up a 20-feet container  and drove it to the yard of the transporter for an overnight stay.

The following day, he drove the truck to the Siginon Freight warehouse for loading and left at 1pm for the port, a short distance of less than 3km. The truck and the container, however, reached  port two days later.

It is believed that it was during this time that the bottoms were cut out and the ivory inserted.

Three Siginon Freight employees who have been arrested were accused of releasing the containers before ensuring that the customs entries had been generated and failing to  provide security to escort the cargo.

Three Kenya Revenue Authority officers who supervised the loading on March 21 are also in custody.