A Kenyan official investigating a large gold smuggling operation from eastern Congo was killed over the weekend in Nairobi, a chilling reminder that smugglers dealing in conflict minerals in Africa’s Great Lakes region are not going to go down without a fight.
Kenya’s Daily Nation reported that Joseph Cheptarus, a commissioner at the Kenyan Revenue Authority, was shot outside of his gate late on Friday night. Police initially attributed the shooting to “normal robbery,” as the Daily Nation put it. But police spokesmen quoted in the media early this week drew the link to Cheptarus’ work on the smuggling investigation.
Kenya is currently investigating a case in which 2.5 tons of gold, worth more than $100 million, was allegedly smuggled from eastern Congo to Kenya and Tanzania.
"We have not arrested any suspects involved in gold smuggling but we have identified three Kenyans who are part of the cartels involved in gold smuggling," said police spokesman Eric Kiraithe, according to Reuters.
Kenya’s major newspaper revealed details of the police probe into gold smuggling just one day before Cheptarus was shot.
Photo: Gold in the hand of a miner (Enough/Sasha Lezhnev)