Five Kenyans to hang over drugs in China
Five Kenyans have been sentenced to death in China after they were found guilty of drug trafficking. Six others have been condemned to life imprisonment in Chinese jails for drug peddling, The Standard has established. And 20 others, majority of them young women, are serving a cumulative jail term of 150 years. Some of them may not even have known that they were carrying drugs. These are among more than 200 Kenyans currently being held in various jails in China, India, Pakistan, UK and other Asian countries over drug-related offences.
Some of those already serving jail terms were university students before they were lured to serve as drug couriers. Among those sentenced to death are Mr Peter Amisi Obonyo, 36, who was arrested in Shenzhen, China. Others are Ms Josephine Achieng Onim, 25, and Ms Grace Lucy Omondi, 57 both arrested in Guangzhou on different dates. Ms Leah Muthoni Mweru Kimani and Ms Christine Nyabera Ongowo, 47, were also sentenced to death after being arrested with drugs in Guangzhou. Those sentenced to life imprisonment are Margaret Mudasia Engesia, 36; Ms Oliviah S. Munoko, 26; Ms Peris Mumbi, 39; Jemimah Wairimu Wangai, 43; Ms Catherine Wambui, 39; and Ms Jacinta Wambui Kuria, 44. More Arrests The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the number but said the figure could be higher as more Kenyans had been arrested last month on drug-related offences and their particulars remained unclear.
The acting Head of Press and Communications Unit at the Foreign Affairsministry, Mr Kiboi Waituru, however, clarified that none of those handed death sentences has been hanged yet. The Standard has also established that many other Kenyans are serving sentences in jails around the world for drug-related offences, but the Government is unaware because they used fake documents, or were not registered with Kenyan missions abroad. A number of them have died in foreign jails. "It is unfortunate that some of our missions do not have records of Kenyans arrested or serving sentences on drug charges because many of them do not register with the embassies as required. Some only do so when seeking assistance when they encounter problems," said Waituru. Most of the convicts were caught carrying a kilo or less of the drugs, which range from cocaine to heroin and amphetamines.
The traffickers are usually paid between Sh200, 000 and Sh300,000 on delivery of the drugs. Waituru said police in other countries contact the Kenyan missions to verify the nationality of suspects arrested while traveling on Kenyan passports. The Government too assists the families of those in custody to travel abroad to visit their relatives. A list of names of the traffickers in Chinese jails alone, a copy of which was obtained by The Standard, show that some Kenyans were given death and life sentences after pleading "guilty" to the charges. Many of the traffickers were arrested in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Beijing on diverse dates between 2007 and last month. "Some of them have had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment for good behaviour while in jail. They are hardly executed," Waituru said.
Some Confessed A big number of the Kenyans in custody have allegedly confessed they had been recruited by a Nigerian drug kingpin — a Mr Ken Amadu Obina Okuoma — in Nairobi. Okuoma has since been deported. Okuoma had operated a drugs empire in Kenya for more than a decade until early this year when he was caught in a dramatic police operation. He was also linked to the arrest of former Miss Tourism and fashion model Ms Loise Ambasa, who was found with 4.2kg of cocaine valued at Sh21 million on arrival at Nairobi’s JKIA airport from Accra, Ghana, in 2005. She was released in November last year after police failed to produce a bag that they had earlier claimed contained the drugs. Police investigations show that drug barons operating from Nairobi have been recruiting couriers, especially young women, who are lured with the promise of large amounts of money and lavish lifestyles. Head of CID’s Anti-Narcotics Unit Ms Judy Auma said the number of Kenyans in custody over drug offences abroad could be higher because some of the cases go unreported
. |Related Stories 10-25 years in prison for Kenyan drug traffickers Why China is the fastest growing economy Forget about China, India is the place to be Police blamed for escalating drug abuse Lessons from China on building strong economy Mexico sends plane for nationals quarantined in China