14 Ethiopians held as police probe human trafficking claims

Some of the 14 illegal immigrants of Ethiopian origin who were traveling aboard a Toyota Prado along the Maralal-Rumuruti highway.

Photo credit: Geoffrey Ondieki | Nation Media Group

A court in Maralal has allowed police to detain 14 Ethiopian nationals for five days pending investigations into human trafficking claims.

Prosecutors had asked Maralal Senior Resident Magistrate James Wanyanga for more time to look into the case.

The suspects were found travelling in a Toyota Prado on the Maralal-Rumuruti highway in Samburu County.

Police are trying to find out whether the foreigners were arrested previously for being in Kenya illegally. Police were also pursuing one suspect who escaped and planned to use him to prove the human trafficking charge.

The escapee was the driver of the vehicle and had a Kenyan driver’s licence. Detectives are trying to establish the vehicle’s owner. 

Some of the 14 illegal immigrants of Ethiopian origin arrested along the Maralal-Rumuruti highway.

Photo credit: Geoffrey Ondieki | Nation Media Group

Intelligence reports show that the suspects’ mode of operation was also used by members of terrorist groups to sneak into Kenya.

Cases of foreigners using fake documents to enter the country through the Moyale-Isiolo highway are rising. They use the bushy Barsaloi-Maralal road to avoid detection.

The magistrate directed that the 14 be detained at the Maralal Police Station until next Monday, when the case will be mentioned.

The foreigners are likely to be charged with illegal stay while the four Kenyans face human trafficking charges.

Police said the suspects were arrested after their vehicle was intercepted on the Maralal-Rumuruti highway. They did not have travel documents or permits allowing them to be in Kenya.

The suspects were reportedly on their way to Nairobi.

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