No details were given about the institutions the 30 were apparently enrolled in, or the drugs in question. But Matiang’i did say the suspects were operating at “various universities” around Kenya.
Earlier in the year it was announced that the government had launched an investigation into public universities in the east African state, due to fears that “cartels” were operating on or around campuses.
“The government has been “fairly ruthless in deporting international students who have been caught selling drugs”
The minister added that the government had imposed “serious responsibilities” on universities, which are intended to “ensure [institutions] are used for learning, not peddling drugs”.
The seriousness with which Nairobi treats the issue of drug smuggling and dealing is acknowledged by Matiang’i, who told local reporters the government has been “fairly ruthless in deporting international students who have either been caught selling drugs or are part of cartels”.
This is not the first occasion of international students being linked to the international narcotics trade.
In 2012, the Australian border authority said an international drug dealing syndicate had purposefully recruited international students to act as couriers in their complex and thorough scheme.
Students would ‘visit’ pacific island territories such as the Cook Islands and Tahiti, where they would meet smugglers who had flown from Colombia. This allowed the gang to travel independently to Australia and Colombia without attracting the suspicion that multiple direct flights would attract.
Over a three-year period this gang is understood to have imported over $800,000 worth of cocaine to Australia. At least 11 cartel members were arrested after an Australian investigation, and at least two individuals prosecuted in Australia received long custodial sentences.
The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service also warned international students not to accept packages to take in their baggage in 2012. This problem arose after several Chinese students were jailed for importing drugs or drug-making materials, after being offered cash for carrying packages in their luggage, or having them posted to their address.