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12 arrested as police smash suspected fuel theft cartel

COUNTIES
By Kevine Omollo | July 7th 2015
Nyanza Regional Police Commander Willy Lugusa inspects fuel netted in a site near Otonglo Estate. About 10,000 litres of petroleum products were recovered during the swoop. [Photo: Collins Oduor/Standard]

Police have arrested 12 people and impounded petroleum products from sites believed to be used for illegal business.

Among the products taken are 10,000 litres of kerosene and 370 litres of super petroleum kept in underground tanks and jerrycans at Otonglo Estate along the Kisumu-Busia road. The Sunday night swoop, which also saw eight generators and empty tanks used for storing the products recovered, has now put on the spot fuel transporters who have been accused of stealing fuel on transit.

Officers led by Kisumu West OCPD Peter Omanwa surrounded the premises at 4am, nabbed the occupants then conducted a four-hour search.

According to area resident Samson Otieno, fuel tanks believed to be ferrying petroleum products to Western Kenya counties have been frequenting the sites where they are partially emptied before proceeding to their destinations.

Otieno, however, said the site occupants have restricted access into their compound with the public not even allowed to peep through the fence.

"Let police tell us what has been going on here. We had even thought of raiding the premises so as to determine exactly what goes on here because we have been living in fear of the unknown," he said.

However, while addressing the Press Monday at the end of the operation, Nyanza Regional Police Commander Willy Lugusa said the police had not yet identified the owners of the sites as no clear documentation on the kind of business going on had been found.

Mr Lugusa said a team of detectives have, for the last three months, been spying on the premises which was suspected of harbouring illegal businesses.

He said the public had tipped the police when the sites were fenced off, as if to constructions were to be erected but discovered that no construction was going on.

Lugusa said the police suspected that fuel transporters have been using the sites to steal petroleum products on their way to various destinations in western Kenya.

He said area police had written to the county government to inquire if it had approved any constructions at the sites but there was no response.

"We suspected this could be an illegal business creating an economic sabotage in the country and we will be taking the suspects to court since they could not explain what business goes on here," he said.

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