By ALLAN TAWAI
A man who was caught trafficking miraa from Nairobi to the UK has been jailed for ten months by a judge at Warwick Crown Court.
The 27-year old Nauris Ennitis from Latvia, pleaded guilty to the illegal importation of 35 kilograms of miraa with a value of Sh. 2,800, 000 (£20,000) into the UK where the plant is a banned class C drug.
The defendant had arrived at London City Airport on a flight from Zurich having originally travelled from Nairobi.
Prosecutor Madhu Rai told the court that in September 2017, Ennitis was stopped by a UK Border Agency officer who had spotted him pushing two large suitcases which he later said he had packed himself.
The court was told that when the officer questioned the accused whether he had been given anything to carry, Ennitis immediately admitted by saying “Yes, I’ve got khat in there. It’s all mine, no-one else has anything to do with it. I just wanted to make some money.”
The two suitcases were stripped open and officers found cloth-wrapped bundles of miraa. The suspect admitted on the spot that he knew it was illegal to bring miraa into the UK, but he was going to gain from importing it.
During the interview, Ennitis said a friend in Kenya had offered to pay him Sh. 140, 000 (£1,000) once he had successfully delivered the drug into the UK.
The prosecutor, Miss Rai, pointed out migrant population from East Africa countries as the main market for the leafy plant which is chewed and has a similar effect to amphetamine, the court also heard that at the time of the case, Ennitis was subject to a 12-week suspended sentenced imposed for breaching a community order he had originally received for driving with excess alcohol.
Speaking via a video link from the prison where he had been on remand, Ennitis, who was representing himself explained that he had breached the suspended sentence and it had been activated in full last month. Regarding miraa offence, he acknowledged “I knew it was illegal, the only reason I was doing it was because I had lost my previous property, and I needed to get a new property,” he said
Ennitis also told the court that, with the exception of last month, he had been consistently working and paying taxes since moving to the UK from Latvia.
He said: “I feel remorse about it. It was a bad thing to do.”
While delivering the judgement the judge said: “You were being paid for that. You needed money because you were in debt, but there are other ways of getting money. You could have done more overtime, but you chose to go down this course. But it is clear you are showing great shame for what you did, and you were entirely honest when you were caught. I very much trust this is the last time the courts are troubled by you, and that you can go back to being a hard-working citizen of this country.”
In 2013, the Dutch government banned miraa exports denying Kenya over Sh1.5 billion in annual revenue.
Soon after, the UK declared miraa a class C drug and banned all imports, leaving Kenyan farmers with Somalia as the only major market.