Hundreds of suspects arrested as raids in illegal brew dens intensify

Quick Response Officers raid alcohol distillation points in Kisumu during a crackdown on illicit brews. Over 10,000 litres of illicit brew were impounded in the operation. (Photo: Kevine Omollo/Standard)

More than 250 people were arrested in different parts of the country over the weekend in the ongoing crackdown on illicit alcohol.

In Mombasa County, 42 people were arrested in Likoni sub-county and will be arraigned in court today. Police said they had also destroyed 760 litres of kangara in the raids conducted in the sprawling settlements on Saturday afternoon.

According to Likoni Officer Commanding Police Division Willy Simba, four people were found in possession of 10 litres of chan’gaa and 40 litres of kangara. “All those arrested will appear in court on Monday. The crackdown continues,” Mr Simba said.

And in Narok County, 76 people were arrested and 19,000 litres of brew destroyed. Narok County Commissioner Arthur Osiya said the fight will not stop until the county gets rid of the drinks that he said have wrecked families and contributed to most crimes.

Speaking Sunday in his office, the commissioner said all outlets that sell the brew will have their licences revoked. “We welcome the President’s call on all elected leaders to join in the fight against these drinks that continue to destroy the lives of our young Kenyans,” said Mr Osiya.

Osiya said police raided London area in Narok town Sunday, arrested 53 people and destroyed 8,000 litres of kangara and 600 litres of chang’aa. Narok Deputy OCPD Charles Ouma and Narok North AP Commander David Mbugua said the drinks were being brewed in the most unhygienic conditions and operators were not licensed.

And in Kisumu, police arrested more than 40 people and impounded over 10, 000 litres of illicit brew.

The operation led by police Quick Response Team saw operations of most distillers in the area halted as staff kept off premises for fear of arrest. According to County Police Boss Joseph Keitany, the officers also found fake Kenya Bureau of Standards stickers at some of the distillation points, which are allegedly used by the distillers to dupe consumers.

At one of the distillation points located near Kisumu State House in Milimani Estate, the officers impounded 24 drums of 250 litres capacity, each full of various brands of brews.

There were also several cartons of various alcohol brands and 17 empty drums ready for filling.

Some of the brands included Nam Lolwe Chang’aa, Dolphin, Nam Lolwe Chaam, Kaka, and Ice Bear among others.

Mr Keitany said police had launched the search for the proprietors who escaped during the search.

“The operation is still on and we will not relent until we are sure the area is free of illicit brews,” said Keitany. The search was also extended to Mamboleo, Migosi and Nyalenda estates.

In Nakuru County, three factories were raided.  In the operation led by County Commissioner Mohamed Birik and Nakuru East MP David Gikaria, more than 500, 000 litres of alcohol were destroyed and over 70 people arrested.

However, most of the proprietors of the factories had transferred some of the liquor to unknown locations and locked the factories. But youths and police moved from one store to another, pouring liquor found and destroying hundreds of plastic tanks which contained methanol.

“We have made substantive progress and urge locals to join in implementing this directive to restore  sobriety,” said Mr Birik.

Meanwhile, a stalemate that almost pitted Gichugu MP Njogu Barua against Government officials over the destruction of thousands of litres of second-generation brews has been resolved.

The MP was engaged in a bitter exchange of words with the officials who claimed they were delaying the destruction of the brews as they waited for the outcome of consultations with National Environment Management Authority officials. The officials claimed the brew would spill and flow into a nearby river, causing serious environmental consequences.

But Mr Barua dismissed the theory. Sunday, Kirinyaga County Police Commander David Bunei deployed officers backed by hundreds of National Youth Service personnel to raid all three factories in Gichugu constituency.