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Responding to Drug Trafficking along the Kenyan Coast 

Kenya, 28 March 2023 – For decades, heroin produced from poppy grown in Afghanistan has been trafficked from ports along the Makran coast of Iran and Pakistan on large ocean-faring dhows or small vessels to port cities across the Indian Ocean coast. Known as the Southern Route, this corridor is a major conduit for illicit maritime flows from which transnational organized crime groups generate considerable revenue. In response, the UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme is implementing a series of activities to enhance regional maritime law enforcement cooperation and active operational coordination, generously supported by the United States Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. 

In Kenya, for instance, UNODC trained 20 officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS) on the execution of counter-drug trafficking operations at sea. In opening the course, the Deputy Director of DCI, Mr. Ireri Kamwende, emphasized the importance of inter-agency cooperation, saying, “Stronger coordination between DCI and KCGS has produced tremendous impacts on drug-related seizures in Kenya.” In the Deputy Director’s words, “Stemming drug trafficking will advance Kenya’s economic development, which requires political will and a multi-dimensional approach.” 

In designing the curriculum, UNODC experts drew from their extensive experience in collaborating with the Government of Kenya to address local threats. Mr. Abdirahman Abduwahab, a participant from KCGS, explained that he gained “Transferrable skills on tactical measures, interviews, and surveillance to investigate drug cases at sea in my duty station, which will lead to a higher number of submissions for prosecution.” At the closing ceremony, the DCI Director of the Investigation Branch, Mr. Eliud Lagat, congratulated all officers for receiving certificates and thanked UNODC for building the capacity of officers to respond to transnational organized crime by sea. 

Under its Global Maritime Crime Programme, and with continued support from the United States, UNODC will facilitate similar but tailored drug investigation and operational planning courses in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Maputo, Mozambique. These courses will include participants from the Tanzania Marine Police, the Drug Control and Enforcement Authority, the Mozambique National Criminal Investigation Service, and the Navy, respectively. UNODC looks forward to continuing its partnership with the relevant Member States to prevent drug trafficking across the Southern Route.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. David O’Connell (

Western Indian Ocean Programme Coordinator

Global Maritime Crime Programme

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Click here to visit the UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme website.