- A warrant of arrest was issued by the court on September 21, 2022, and is yet to be executed.
- The Director of Criminal Investigations Mohamed Amin said they are interested in getting the side of Magara as part of their probe into the issue.
Police are looking for a main suspect in the trafficking of job-seeking Kenyan youth (aged between 23-31 years) to Southeast Asian countries including Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.
Wycliffe Onguti Magara was identified as the lead facilitator in the trafficking and a warrant to arrest him is in place, the DCI said.
Police say following a media interview on August 29, 2022, in one of the local newspapers that featured RM, one of the first returnees from Thailand, who exposed the activities of Magara and associates, he has gone into hiding.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations opened a Court file no E089/2022 for the trafficking of Kenyan nationals to Myanmar and Laos, after recording statements from 26 victims in August 2022.
A warrant of arrest was issued by the court on September 21, 2022, and is yet to be executed.
The Director of Criminal Investigations Mohamed Amin said they are interested in getting the side of Magara as part of their probe into the issue.
“It remains pending and we hope to find him soon,” he said.
It is believed that he’s working in cahoots with foreigners who include Chinese, Indian and Thai and local Kenyan players to lure unsuspecting Kenyan youth into the traps of human traffickers in South-East Asia.
According to police between May-August 2022, Magara through a recruitment agency within Nairobi Central Business District, lured susceptible Kenyans into non-existent employment opportunities in Thailand, only for them to be smuggled to Myanmar on arrival in Thailand and forced them to work for cyber-crime gangs and prostitution rings.
During the recruitment process, the victims paid between Sh350,000 and Sh400,000 as ‘facilitation' and travel fee.
Most victims were forced to take up loans and some families disposed of their assets to raise the fee.
Simultaneously, foreign players would also pay him between Sh150,000 to Sh200,000 to facilitate the recruitment process.
Police say Magara acquired Tourist Visas for the victims and promised them a work permit once in Thailand.
Before scheduled travels, he organized accommodation at air bed and breakfast apartments (Airbnb) specifically Great Wall apartments in Syokimau, due to its proximity to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Magara coached the victims to state that they were visiting Thailand as tourists and further facilitated with some funds as ‘show money’ in case they are stopped by immigration officials at the Airport.
Show of money would be proof that the victim would be able to support themselves. It is estimated that Magara has facilitated the trafficking of about 100 Kenyans.
In November 2022, the Kenyan embassy in Bangkok warned Kenyans to be cautious about online adverts purporting jobs including sales and customer care in Thailand.
The Embassy indicated that scammers use such online job adverts to scam unsuspecting Kenyans.
Some of the victims of such scams, the Embassy added ended up in Myanmar where they are forced to commit cyber-crimes and forced labour camps where they risk losing their lives and/or losing body organs.
Cases of Kenyans unsuspectingly ending into death traps and slavery in Myanmar and other destinations in South-East Asia have been on the ascendancy recently.
The youths need to take caution and do due diligence when prospecting for jobs in the South-East or anywhere outside the country.
There has been an increase in the number of online job adverts targeting Kenyan youths with jobs that are purported to be in Thailand and other South-East Asian countries.
Many of the deceptive job adverts have been used as traps to lure unsuspecting Kenyan youth into suffering and in some unfortunate circumstances, death.