MOMBASA, Kenya, Mar 12 – Police on Thursday arrested three Indonesian women at the Moi International Airport, Mombasa while trafficking 61 kilos of miraa to the United Kingdom via Denmark.
The miraa is estimated at Sh20 million in the UK market.
The khat was seized concealed in four suitcases destined for the European market through Denmark.
Airport police boss Richard Okweya said the three were boarding a commercial flight to Jomo Kenyatta international Airport JKIA in Nairobi and later connect to Denmark.
Police said Tsomodis Sarina, Jepsen Jesica and Halberg Isabel had arrived in Kenya a week ago.
“Our officers discovered the miraa wrapped and hidden in the suitcases as they three waited to board a flight. They are being interrogated before they are charged in court,” said Okweye.
They were charged for exporting concealed goods namely khat weighing 61 kilograms at the Moi International Airport, contrary the East Africa community customs management act 2004.
They pleaded guilty to the charges before Mombasa chief magistrate Stephen Riech and fined Sh50,000 each or to serve six months imprisonment in the alternative.
The UK banned miraa on June 24, 2014 after the British Parliament approved the government’s decision to reclassify miraa as a Class C drug.
British High Commissioner to Kenya Christian Turner said the proposal to ban miraa in the UK was not targeted at Kenya, but was a consideration that has been ongoing for a long period.
Turner said Kenya was among several other countries that would be affected by the ban.
“The UK Government has had a long-standing intention to review the legal status of miraa aimed at ensuring that to ensure that the UK does not become a hub for international khat smuggling,” said Turner.
Meru leaders protested that move saying the ban will worsen and increase poverty levels since miraa is the most profitable crop in the area with about half a million people depending on it directly.
[Story edited to indicate the three are Indonesians and NOT Danish as earlier stated]