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Five charged with smuggling sandalwood

Five people including four Ugandans have been charged with dealing with endangered species contrary to the Kenya Wildlife conservation and management Act of 2013.

The five were paraded at the Kibera Law Courts even as it emerged their activities had been monitored by officers from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) for some time.

Eventually, they were arrested allegedly in possession of sandalwood which they were transporting to Uganda after the intelligence agency tipped the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

The five were arrested by the DCI’s Special Service Unit (SSU) after a series of NIS investigations that documented their movement and the vehicles they were using.

The suspects are three brothers Alecho Abdalla Issah, Kato Hussein Issah, and Yusuf Issah who were picked up at Mahi Mahiu Township within Nakuru County on their way to Uganda on May 7.

They were allegedly found with 350 kilogram of sandalwood forest material packed in three sacks in their trailer – KDB 521C – without permission from the director of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

Others are Jamal Ssenkumba and Mutunga Mutie arrested at Athi River Township and Emali town respectively, along the Nairobi Mombasa Highway on May 8.

Ssenkumba was allegedly found with 128kgs KDA 532K while Mutie was allegedly found with 60 kgs of the sandalwood inside his car – KDC 921L probox succeed without permit.

The Ugandans were trailer drivers and were carrying raw materials for making cement to a cement manufacturer in Tororo.

And state prosecution counsel Robert Ogalo told resident magistrate William Tulel that Mutie’s mobile phone is still being analysed by the NIS and the DCI’s forensics department.

Mutie is said to be the mastermind of the business of harvesting and transporting the sandalwood which is processed before being exported to Asian countries.

However, he has reportedly claimed that there is another person involved.

The five suspects denied the charges and were released on bond ahead of the hearing on August 4.