National Police Service officers in collaboration with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) on Friday, April 9 arrested six suspects who were found in possession of sandalwood worth Ksh7.7 million.
The six were arrested at the Nguu area, Makueni County by officers stationed at the Big Life, Kiboko, David and Sheldrick and Emali police stations after a tip-off from members of the public.
During the ambush, the police impounded two vehicles that were ferrying the sandalwood to Tanzania.
Speaking after the arrest, Nzaui sub-county police commander, Mbatian Kantai, said that smuggling of sandalwood had been on the rise but promised to deal with the illegal business accordingly.
"Through the multi-agency team of officers, we were able to arrest the suspects transporting 28 bags of sandalwood which is equivalent to 5.5 tons.
"We are yet to establish the ready market for this endangered species of plants but we are pursuing to know," Kantai said.
Other three suspects who were arrested on Tuesday, April 6 on the same charges were arraigned in court on Thursday, April 8.
The three were arraigned before a principal magistrate, Benson Ireri and they pleaded guilty to the offense.
The judge directed that the suspects be detained until April 22 so that the prosecution takes exhibits of the analysis to the National Museum of Kenya before sentencing was done.
Kenya Forest Service chairman, Peter Kinyua, in 2018 banned the harvesting of Sandalwood.
He noted that the species would soon become extinct due to over-extraction.
Sandalwood is cited as the most expensive wood in the world and it is mainly illegally smuggled because it retains its fragrance for decades.
In the beauty industry sandalwood is used in the manufacturing of perfumes and essential oils.
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