More women at the Coast are increasingly getting into the narcotics trade, which has in the past been dominated by men.
Last week’s seizure of cocaine worth Sh110 million at a house in Kisauni and subsequent arrest of a female suspect is a clear indication of women upping their game in the trade.
Ms Nuru Murshid Mahfudh, 29, was linked to drug trafficking after the 36,764 grams of cocaine worth Sh110 million was recovered in her residence. Ms Mahfudh joins more than 11 other women who are fighting drug trafficking charges in court.
The charges have been preferred against them at Shanzu and Mombasa courts.
The Anti-Narcotic Police officers and their counterparts from the Transnational Organised Crime Unit believe that Ms Mahfudh could be working with other women to distribute the substance either within or outside the country.
The recovery of a passport bearing the name Farid Shaban Athman in the house where the narcotics were found has raised eyebrows among detectives, who now believe that there could be a network of women working with Ms Mahfudh in the business.
When Ms Mahfudh appeared in a Shanzu court, Anti Narcotic Police Unit officer George Odhiambo said they were pursuing the woman’s accomplices.
The sleuths are interested in what is contained in the suspect’s two iPhones that she was found with.
The two mobile phones have been forwarded to the cybercrime unit for further investigations. Detectives want to know the people she has been communicating with, the nature of the communication, and the business they have been transacting.
“We believe the mobile phones contain essential information that will help us identify the suspect's network and accomplices,” said the investigator.
The police also want to know the geographical location of the accomplices.
“Investigations are still ongoing. The detectives are still pursuing various leads that could lead to the identification of potential witnesses and the discovery of more evidence,” said Mr Anthony Musyoka, a prosecutor.
The police also believe that due to the high quantity and value of the hard drugs, the scales, and other equipment recovered at her residence, it is clear the suspect could either be a distributor or working with drug traffickers.
"Her release pending investigations not only endangers her life but also could be a threat to prospective witnesses," the court heard. Documents tabled in court indicate that nine packets of the drugs were found hidden in a television box while six in a paper.
Digital weighing scales, among other items, that were found in the suspect’s kitchen, form part of the evidence to be used against her during the trial.
Before Ms Mahfudh, there was Ms Fatuma Sicobo Mohamed.
The 40-year-old trafficked 2,466.4 grams of heroin worth more than Sh7.3 million. Last year, she was jailed for life after being found guilty of trafficking the hard drugs.
She is serving the sentence at Shimo la Tewa Women Prison since December 15 and was additionally fined Sh22.1 million.
But the mother of three is going down fighting.
She has filed an appeal against the life imprisonment, asking the court to set her free.
Ms Asma Abdalla was last year charged with the same offence. She faced the charge alongside Swaleh Yussuf Ahmed and Suleiman Salim.
Similarly, a Tanzanian national, Ms Jumanne Maimuna Amir, was last year arrested and charged with trafficking 5.3kg of heroin worth Sh15 million.
The hard drugs were found hidden in a suitcase. According to the police, the heroin was draped in four polythene sachets and covered with curry powder and pepper to disguise the scent.
Ms Maimuna had just jetted into the country through Moi International Airport.
Mwanasomo Mohammed, 51, is also facing similar charges. She allegedly trafficked two kilogrammes of heroin worth Sh6 million.
She is facing the charge alongside Said Aboobakar, 53.
Ms Zahra Ali Akharazi is also facing similar offences at the Shanzu Law Court. She is charged alongside New Zealander Selby Dean Freeman for trafficking cocaine worth Sh47, 000.
Mr Freeman is being sought in Malaysia over his alleged involvement in drug trafficking in 2012.
Other suspects in the case are Alfin Allaudin Akbrelali Alibhai, and Abdul Lateef Ibrahim (Nigerian).
They allegedly trafficked 11.9 grams of cocaine and 355.3 grams of cannabis worth Sh47, 600 and Sh71, 060 respectively.
Ms Fatuma Ahmed was in 2019 charged alongside Mr Yussuf with trafficking heroin worth 275 million. Their case is still pending in court.
While asking the court to detain Ms Mahfudh after she denied the drug trafficking charge, state counsel Ogega Bosibori said the penalty for the offence when convicted is severe and this may motivate the woman to jump bail.
“The offence is serious in nature and attracts long jail terms or a fine twice the value of the drugs,” she told principal magistrate Yussuf Shikanda.
The prosecutor also based her opposition to bond on the travel history of the 29-year-old, noting that this confirms fears that she might jump bail.
“She has been to Dubai and Tanzania. She is a flight risk. She has close relations with some of the key witnesses in this case and hence might interfere with them should she be granted bail at this juncture,” said Ms Bosibori.
"Given the value of the narcotics and their impact in the society, we ask that she be denied bond until the case is heard but should the court decide to give bond, a pre-bail report be availed for us to interrogate her further on where she works,” added the prosecutor.
The woman opposed this application and urged the court to grant her bail.
Through her advocate Eugene Wangila, the suspect said no evidence has been available to prove she is a flight risk.
“Every accused person has a right to bail regardless of the seriousness of the offence unless there are compelling reasons. The reasons must be undeniable and beyond reasonable doubt,” said the advocate.
Mr Wangila further said that all his client’s passports have expired and cannot be used to travel outside the country. He said the woman last travelled outside the country in 2016.
“The trips to Tanzania were family visits while those to Dubai were work-related,” said Wangila, adding that the prosecution has no duty to ask for a pre-bail report.
“The accused is two months pregnant. She started bleeding while coming to court. This is her first pregnancy and we don't want her to suffer twice,” added the advocate.
The magistrate ordered that the suspect be remanded pending the ruling on the bond application. He has also asked for a pre-bail report to assist him to make an informed decision.
The case will be mentioned on June 3.
National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) director Farida Rashid, blames the desire for “soft life” to women engaging in drug trafficking.
“They want a soft life but are not ready to work hard for it. They end up being used to distribute the narcotics at a fee,” she said.
She further says that most women fall for this kind of business due to influence from friends, who have connections to the drug barons.
Most women who have been arrested for drug trafficking do not own the narcotics but are merely being used to facilitate the trade, she added.