Police arrest hundreds in war on drugs, illicit brew in Central

Maragua MP Mary Wamaua joined the security teams in destruction of illicit brews and bhang netted in crime prone Maragua azrea. [Boniface Gikandi, Standard]

A report on the war against illicit brew and hard drugs in Central region has revealed the extent of the problem.

The report by the Central Region Commissioner's office indicates that bhang is the most abused narcotic in the five counties of Kiambu, Nyeri, Murang'a, Kirinyaga and Nyandarua.

The report, covering between April to July 2023, shows 670 people have been arrested for being in possession, growing and trafficking of bhang.

The report indicates that for the last one month, police have intercepted 2,966 rolls and 101 kilogrammes of cannabis sativa (bhang).

Kiambu topped the list with 55 kilogrammes and 997 rolls of the drug.

The report further indicated that 471 suspected drug peddlers, illicit brewers and second generation alcohol sellers have either gone into hiding or have relocated from their homes to avoid the dragnet of the police, while 753 suspects are being monitored by the sleuths.

“234 suspects have either been quitted from selling the hard drugs and the illicit liquor and reformed, a major breakthrough in the fight against narcotics,” the report shows.

On illicit liquor, Kiambu again topped the list followed by Murang'a, with Nyandarua registering the most positive results in the low consumption of illicit brew and hard drugs.

In the period under review, the data showed that the provincial administration had a breakthrough in the month of June where 15,587 litres of illicit brew were nabbed, of which 13,262 litres were from Murang'a county alone.

In the same county, 252 litres of chang'aa, 2,500 litres of kang'ara, 3,000 litres of Jumbo Ice beer and 7,512 litres of Diamond Ice beer were nabbed and three suspects arrested.

The report has shown that kang'ara is the most preferred illicit brew in the region, while Diamond Ice is the leading second-generation liquor in the five counties.

The report highlighted measures that the provincial administration has established to assist in the fight against illicit brew such as setting up the Anti-Aounterfeit Authority at the Assistant County Commissioner’s office in Nyeri.

However, the report cited failure by traders and users to identify second generation alcohol among the challenges facing the fight against illicit brew.

It also cited biased interpretation of the law by the courts, and conspiracy by some members of the teams, including county government officers, who colluded with alcohol traders in perpetuating the vice.

The report also noted that some of the disloyal officers were leaking information to suspects.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, who has been leading the war against drugs and illicit brew, says it is 70 per cent won.

According to Gachagua, the cooperation between members of public and the provincial administration has yielded fruits.

In a meeting with security agencies in April, the Deputy President said illicit brew has become a threat to economic stability, the lives and the health of the youth.

He asked governors to carry out an audit on the licences issued to ascertain their status, with a view to eliminating illegal ones.

In the same month, Gachagua ordered all county governments in Mt Kenya region to revoke all licences to bars and restaurants and to only licence one in each town.

"I urge all the county governments from Mt Kenya region to go back to the round table and revoke the many licences they have issued to bars and restaurants as they are destroying our children. Only one bar and restaurant should be licensed in each town. Bars are more than shops and hotels," he said during a bursary issuance ceremony.

But The Saturday Standard has learnt that the orders did not auger well with the liquor operators who threatened to seek court intervention, a move that made governors develop cold feet and fail to implement the orders.

However, the Deputy President recently said the cooperation between members of public and the provincial administration has yielded fruits, promising to soldier on to eradicate the remaining brew and hard drugs to rescue the youth from the chains of drunkenness.

"We are on course and there is no turning back, we shall win the war with continued cooperation with Kenyans," he said at Sagana State Lodge.