With Feisal Mohamed Ali firmly ensconced in the number one position of infamous Kenyan ivory traffickers, the brother’s Jefwa, Nicholas and Samuel, would be placed at a distant second.
In April of 2015, three sea containers, purporting to be tea, left Mombasa Port for Laos and Vietnam. Acting on a tip off, customs officials intercepted one container in Port Laem Chabang, Thailand, and the other two in Singapore. Both consignments contained bags of tea leaves but stashed amongst the tea leaves, were over seven tonnes of ivory.
The Singapore seizure was the second of the two and it was not long before Kenya police made arrests. The investigation led to a home on the outskirts of Mombasa where is was believed the ivory had been stored and cut. The property had been leased to a Said Juma Said, later found to be an alias for Mombasa businessman, Abdulrahman Mahmoud Sheikh (you will see this name again).
Continued investigation implicated Sheikh’s brother and father, as well as a 30 year veteran employee of the Kenya Revenue Agency, and five other minor players involved in the transportation of the ivory in the Mombasa area.
4.6 tonnes of ivory seized in Singapore May 2015 that had been delivered to Mombasa port by the Jefwa’s.
Enter the Jefwas. Nicholas Mweri Jefwa, 44 yrs of age, and his brother Samuel Bakari Jefwa, 30 yrs, were no strangers to the Mombasa Port. Nicholas reportedly had worked for a couple of logistics companies since the mid-1990’s and had graduated with a certificate from the Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Association in 2011. He and his younger brother subsequently started their own company, Potential Quality Supplies.
In September 2014, Nicholas Jefwa met with one of the directors of a tea exporting business, Almasi Chai, and together they formed an illicit partnership to export ‘tea’ to Far East destinations. It is known that the Jefwa’s, (through Potential Quality Supplies) and Almasi Chai shipped three other containers of ‘tea’, the first one being in October 6, 2014 in container HJCU2354639 to an unknown destination. This tea shipment was followed by a December 12th shipment to Sri Lanka and a February 28th shipment to Singapore. The contents of those three ’tea’ shipments were never verified by customs officials but it would not be a stretch to believe that they also contained ivory and almost certainly 2000 kilogrammes plus in each container.
The initial Thailand seizure was on April 25th, and by all indications the Jefwa’s knew there was a problem the day after. They were in Tanzania at the time. The pair, described by police as part of a cartel involved in ivory trade in East Africa, have been apparently on the run ever since. Initial police reports had them crossing the border into Uganda and possibly heading to South Sudan.
Ivory was sent by Jefwa’s business ‘Potential Quality Supplies’. Of note, the company was registered almost 2 years before the seizure.
In October 2015, five months after the ivory was seized, Interpol issued a “Red Notice”, or a world wide alert for police, advising of the Jefwa’s wanted status. One year later, the Jefwa’s had still not been located and the police reported that they were in either Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan or other central African countries. “It is difficult to find them because of the war in South Sudan. They may also find refuge in the Central African Republic and DR Congo,” said one senior police officer.
At the same time, however, Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss Ndegwa Muhoro, said publicly that “security agents suspected the brothers were being protected by wealthy individuals behind the killing of elephants and rhinos in many parts of Kenya.”
Late in 2017, Kenyan NGO, Wildlife Direct, discovered that the Jefwa’s were no longer on the Interpol Red List. Appropriate authorities were contacted and it seemed that the actual arrest warrant had somehow not been renewed. While it may be plausible that an arrest warrant has to be renewed, would Interpol be contacted and advised: “please withdraw the red notice until we renew the warrant?” Seems sketchy!
The trial against Abdulrahman Mahmoud Sheikh and eight others continues to languish in Mombasa courts (they were only charged in relation to the one Thailand seizure) with the Jefwa brothers still evading police. But are they really ‘evading’? Shortly after the investigation commenced, the police became aware of how Nicholas Jefwa had sent money from outside the country to his three wives, his girlfriend, his mother and even a younger brother. Is it really believable that with this number of close family connections, that he cannot be traced?
For the man in charge of DCI to suggest that the Jefwa’s were being protected by influential persons, clearly we have a problem. And while the Kenya police do have some integrity issues, there is no doubting their ability to find people when they want. In this case, do they really want?