Law enforcement authorities are currently conducting an investigation into the source of a shipment of Pethidine, an opioid pain-relief medication, that was intercepted in Nairobi en route to Lagos, Nigeria. The cargo, consisting of 54 packages, was flagged as a suspicious shipment. In Kenya, Pethidine falls under the category of controlled substances listed in the first schedule of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Control Act.
Pethidine, previously commonly used to alleviate pain arising from various conditions and even during childbirth, is subject to strict regulations due to its potential for abuse and its classification as a Schedule II Controlled Substance by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Such drugs are considered dangerous and are associated with a high risk of psychological and physical dependence.
On June 12, authorities received information that the shipment was bound for Lagos. Upon verification, the 54 packages were found to contain the drug. As a result, the authorities seized the shipment pending a comprehensive analysis by government analysts. The investigation into the origin of the consignment is ongoing, as stated by Margret Karanja, the head of the Anti Narcotics Unit.
Officials express concern about the rising consumption of such drugs within the country and are planning measures to address this worrying trend. Instances of narcotics trafficking have been increasing, with traffickers now opting for road transportation rather than airports for their illicit activities. Heroin is the most frequently trafficked narcotic, primarily entering the country from Tanzania and Uganda. In 2019, the European Union Ambassador to Kenya, Simon Mordue, revealed that 30% of illegal heroin smuggled into the EU market originated from the Kenyan port of Mombasa. The majority of the heroin in Kenya is sourced from Afghanistan via the Indian Ocean.
Kenyan security agencies made a significant seizure in 2016, discovering 100 kilograms of cocaine valued at Sh598 million in Mombasa, which had been disguised as sugar. However, the case was ultimately dismissed in court.