NAIROBI, (Xinhua) — Kenyan police on Tuesday arrested six suspects after being found with 216 kilograms of ivory worth 210,000 U.S. dollars in a house in Utawala residential area, Nairobi.
Head of Special Crimes Prevention Unit Noah Katumo said the suspects found with the tusks told police they were headed for Hong Kong where the owners had paid for their shipment.
“They planned to use tobacco to seal the ivory to avoid detection at various points,” Katumo said in Nairobi, noting that the police tracked the suspects to the two bedroomed house where the ivory had been cut into pieces and packaged ready for shipment following a tip off.
Katumo said the main dealer identified as Abdinur Ibrahim was among those arrested and that most of the ivory originated from Meru National Park.
The arrests come after conservationists have decried the entry of organized crime syndicates into the illegal wildlife trade, most notably of rhino horn and elephant ivory, which they said, has created a crisis situation in many African countries.
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has expressed fears that the recent spike in poaching which has contributed to the depletion of wildlife including elephants, lions and rhinos, are threatening many years of conservation efforts and animal populations that had started to balloon.
Katumo added they also seized a weighing machine, rolls of cello tape and rolls of tobacco that the men were using in their business. He said the supposed to be receiver had sent half of the money to the senders of the cargo.
This gives an indication the illegal business in ivory is still rampant despite thorough policing and stiff penalties on those caught.
The operation was carried out by various government agencies. Two months ago two men were arrested after they were found with 117 kilograms of ivory in Tseikuru, Kitui County in eastern Kenya.
The arrest comes at a time when various agencies are investigating the March seizure of ivory weighing 117 kgs in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The Hanoi seizure was later traced back to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Recent trends show that the far eastern countries continue to present a lucrative market for ivory and other wildlife trophies. More suspects are being sought and under investigations.