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09:42, 16 July 2014 Wednesday

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Kenya seizes $2.5mn of heroin from Iranian ship
Kenya seizes $2.5mn of heroin from Iranian ship

The ship, named the MV Al-Noor, had been intercepted by the Kenya Navy two weeks ago off the Lamu coast, some 350km north of Mombasa.

World Bulletin / News Desk

Kenyan police have seized 343 kilograms of heroin worth some $2.5 million from an Iranian-flagged ship in Mombasa, Kenya's second-largest city.

"The navy had suspected that the ship was one of several others shipping drugs," Khamis Massa, who heads Mombasa's anti-narcotics police unit, told Anadolu Agency by phone.

He said the ship, named the MV Al-Noor, had been intercepted by the Kenya Navy two weeks ago off the Lamu coast, some 350km north of Mombasa.

"For almost two weeks, it has been held at the Mombasa port while we investigated its cargo. And upon our search today, we managed to recover some 342.7 kilograms of heroin from the ship's fuel store tank," Massa said.

"It's quite a large ship with many compartments. Some documents we found indicated that the cargo shipped was cement. I am certain that we will discover more sachets of the drug. The search is still on," he added.

On July 7, nine sailors from Pakistan, Iran and India were arrested and charged with drug trafficking by a Mombasa court after a sachet of heroin was found on their ship.

One of the sailors from Pakistan subsequently died in police custody.

Kenyan police have yet to issue a statement on the death of the Pakistani national.

The remaining sailors will remain in police custody for the next seven days, according to Massa.

"The investigation is still on; today's discovery will definitely build a strong case against the eight suspects," he said.

Kenyan police believe the ship originated from Bandar Bushehr in Iran, calling on Pakistan's Port of Karachi and Somalia's Port Mogadishu before setting sail for the port of Mombasa in Kenya and Zanzibar in Tanzania.

Kenya and Tanzania are increasingly becoming preferred transit routes for drug traffickers shipping heroin from Afghanistan, India and Pakistan to the U.S. and Europe, according to a U.N. report released in 2013.

On April 23, an Australian naval ship seized the biggest haul of drugs ever confiscated in Africa, worth some $298 million. Before this, Africa's biggest seizure – worth approximately $76 million – was netted in Nairobi and Mombasa in 2004.

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