Jack Marrian, who has been accused of smuggling cocaine hidden in sugar shipments into Kenya, has “great similarities” with a similar drugs bust in Sri Lanka, according to his lawyer.
The 31-year-old sugar trader, will stand trial in Nairobi today (3 October) after almost 100kg of cocaine was discovered hidden in a sugar shipment bought by his company, which arrived in Mombasa from Brazil, destined for Mr Marrian’s Uganda-based company Mshale Commodities.
The British aristocrat and grandson of the sixth Earl of Cawdor, has denied any involvement and claims he is a victim of drug traffickers who hijacked his shipment.
The case has parallels with another ongoing case in Colombo, Sri Lanka, which has seen a sugar trader arrested for cocaine smuggling after more than 90kg of the drug was discovered within a sugar shipment owned by Amro Sugar Company in June.
The owner of the company was arrested and like Mr Marrian, is also due to stand trial.
The following month, officials in Colombo found 275kg of the class A drug on another Amro shipment. In all three cases, the sugar shipments were sent from Santos, Brazil, on ships belonging to global shipping agent, Mediterranean Shipping Company, or MSC.
“Certainly we will put it to witnesses that Jack is an innocent victim and the drugs have been planted in this container. It seems to be a common way of doing it, these gangs planting the drugs, and it seems this fellow in Sri Lanka is also a victim.” – Sheetal Kapila, Jack Marrian’s lawyer
Mr Kapila has suggested that his client had been targeted by the “rip-on / rip-off ” method of cocaine smuggling which involves smugglers stowing their drugs in cargo belonging to others and recovering it in the port of arrival.
The method involves the security seal being replaced with a duplicate to avoid obvious signs of tampering.
Once the rip-off is completed at the port, the container is either left open or resealed with another false seal.
“Rip-on/rip-off ” has become increasingly common. According to the EU Drugs Market Report 2016, the percentage of this kind of smuggling has more than doubled from just 32 percent of drug seizures in 2010 to 70 percent in 2012.
“Corrupt officials and port employees facilitate this form of trafficking, and there are concerns that the [organised crime gangs] may be making systematic efforts to corrupt workers in all major ports to facilitate shifting of routes as necessary.” – EU Drugs Market Report 2016
The US Drug Enforcement Agency and Spanish officials suspect that the shipment that arrived in Kenya was supposed to have been removed by drug smugglers on its first stop in Valencia, Spain, before heading to Mombasa.