Due to their celebrity status in society, artistes have for many years been identified as influencers. Not to be left behind, drug barons also capitalise on this influence to sell their illegal wares at concerts or elsewhere where artistes are able to pull huge crowds. For instance, mid last year, a mega concert in Nairobi was temporarily disrupted as police officers moved in to arrest fans who were smoking bhang. Among those arrested was an upcoming singer and a dancer.
During a recently held concert headlined by foreign artistes, this writer witnessed drug peddlers peddling their merchandise to fans. Apart from bhang (probably the most accessed drug in the country), the writer had a first-hand experience of some white 'powder' (suspected to be some kind of a hard drug like cocaine or heroin) being peddled in small nylon sachets, albeit in discreet manner.
This trade continues to thrive, thanks to a few drug barons using some of the local artistes. Some have even devised new mechanisms of propagating their illegal trade. Among the new entrants into the business, apart from musicians, are socialites and showbiz promoters.
Our investigations of months have exposed a damning ring of showbiz players in Kenya who, closely with local and international drug barons, have formed sophisticated syndicates to traffic hard drugs across nations. Kenya, as always has been, has been more than ever identified as 'friendly' entry route and market for the drugs.
Apart from corrupt officers from the Kenyan police service, airports authority, seaports authority, politicians and transport agencies, socialites and music promoters are now deep into the trade!
Our investigations led us to a popular five-star hotel in the city, where drug barons and traffickers, as well as gold-scammers, meet on regular basis to strategise or analyse the situation of their trade. These meetings are either disguised as birthday or music video launch parties.
Attendance in to such 'parties' are strictly by invite and always observe strict dress codes. They run late into the night, with lots of expensive food and drinks being on offer for the attending crowd.
In one of the parties the Pulse investigative team attended, a number of so-called "loaded city businessmen" and a prominent politician from the coast region were in attendance. Although we might not be at liberty to mention names, some of the individuals in attendance have severally been adversely mentioned and implicated with drug trafficking in Kenya. Amusing would be an understatement trying to define the level of opulence oozing from the organization of the "birthday party".
At the party were a number of some of the country's most popular socialites. The Pulse investigative team identified not less than four well known socialites toasting and making all manners of merry with the heavily-loaded men.
We have since discovered that some socialites are being used to traffic drugs from Kenya to other parts of the world. They are being paid hefty sums of money running into millions to act as decoys and enable a safe transportation of narcotics from various East African destinations to other parts of the globe. Lately, the United Arab Emirates, especially Dubai, has become one of the favourite markets for hard drugs, and socialites have been aiding in transporting the products to these destinations.
An interview with one of the socialites (name withheld), who in the last few years has been involved deeply in the trade, has to be rescheduled multiple times and locations severally shifted, due to "security reasons". When it finally happened, the bootylicious and light-skinned lass finally revealed to us how safe-passage of drugs from the country is aided by corrupt airport, boarder-point and immigration officers.
"Some of the people inspecting cargo and luggage at airports are part of the job. They are fixed at strategic places, especially when someone like me is on transit with "merchandise". They are there to just ensure that everything goes as planned. It's a well-orchestrated trade my dear..." she reveals.
She says casually: "Sometimes we have spies following us almost every time we venture beyond our houses. They are literally ensuring that you are not selling out the boss to the media, a business rival or the police. But the police are the least of their concern. They give hefty bribes to senior police officers to ensure they trade smoothly."
She says that in about 15 months, she has been to about ten European, UAE and Asian countries to deliver "cargo". Out of this all-expenses paid for trips, she has earned about Sh3 million.
"It's a high risk job but it pays well," she says.
She adds that among the biggest drug lords in Kenya are "powerful" men and women with influences within power and that they enjoy "so much security" that nothing can be done to them.
Music promoters and event organisers
Music promoters on the other hand, are being paid loads of cash by syndicate leaders (read drug barons) to organise 'big' concerts by bringing in popular foreign artistes where rich drug users make for a ready market. Ushers (or the so-called brand models) are used to deliver merchandise to the 'client'.
A close industry player and privy to how things operate tells us that most of the parties and concerts being held across the city and other major towns are nothing but a way to hoodwink masses about what really happens there.
"I had to disassociate with a certain promoter and event organiser, when I learned about what exactly was happening at his events. A lot of money and drugs exchanges hands at these events. The situation is pathetic to say the least," said our source who wished not to be named.
Police spokesperson George Kinoti says that the National Police Service has intensified intelligence and that facilitation of the anti-narcotics unit, to ensure that all loopholes used in the illegal trade are covered.
"We are also carrying out a lot of multi-agency operations, involving other stakeholders such as the ministry of health, licensing board, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and border and ports security agencies," he told Pulse.
Kinoti adds that multilateral cross-border tasks to curb the menace have been intensified.
Recently in Tanzania, several musicians, actresses and managers were summoned by the police and others held over drugs related allegations. They included Vanessa Mdee, Nay Wa Mitego, TID, Wema Sepetu and BBA Hotshot winner Idris Sultan.