The Impact of Drug Trafficking on Informal Security Actors in Kenya

Moritz Schuberth


The Kenyan state is currently under pressure from two sides: First, numerous non-state armed groups have taken over the provision of security in areas where the state is practically absent. Second, drug-trafficking organizations are gaining ground as the country is increasingly being used as a major transit hub for narcotics. This article investigates the relationship between drug trafficking and informal security provision in Kenya and draws analogies from comparable experiences in Latin America and West Africa. Field research in Kenya has demonstrated that profit-oriented, informal security actors in Mombasa work for drug lords, while their counterparts in Nairobi are more likely to be hired by politicians. Moreover, faith-based vigilante groups in both cities appear to be less susceptible to external manipulation by drug traffickers. The article concludes by considering the potential consequences of an expansion of the drug trade in Kenya.

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