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Parents warned of online gangs luring teenage girls

By Kamore Maina and Allan Mungai | November 22nd 2020
A teen with a phone in her room [Getty Images/iStockphoto]

Parents have been warned to watch out keenly against online platforms being used to lure children. The Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI) says such platforms have increased recently.

DCI boss George Kinoti’s caution came as three of the seven teenagers reported missing in Nairobi told the police they travelled to Thika where they had been living with their friends for close to a week.

“The DCI wishes to inform the public that we are hunting down members of the cartel and they’ll be arrested to answer for their crimes. The DCI further warns parents to take a keen interest in their children’s activities at home and on social media networks,“ Kinoti said.

Kinoti Twitted that investigations had revealed that the online gang was targeting high school girls for orgy parties.

“Preliminary investigations by the DCI have established the girls were lured out of their homes through a social media account named Carty-gang-ent. The cartel has been using internationally-registered telephone numbers, although they operate from Nairobi.”

And the girls yesterday revealed that another two spent their time in a separate house in Kiambu town where they were also hosted by a friend.

The five did not report back home until Friday evening.

Two other girls, whose names are not in the list of those reported missing, did not spend a single night outside their parents’ home.

They were, however, among the minors DCI officers questioned.

The two also travelled almost daily from their homes in Komarock and would join their friends for endless parties in the CBD, Kiambu and Thika town.

Their hosts seem to be well-resourced individuals based on the places they frequented.

In one instance, the friends treated them for drinks at a high-end mall near Gigiri.

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The minors insist that at no point were they under any threat or danger.

“We were very careful in our interrogation not to expose the children or even offend them. They have told us that they were not under any form of danger,” said an investigator familiar with the matter.

The girls told the police that they did not touch alcohol during their sleepover sessions.

Asked by the police if they did not fear contracting Covid-19, one of the minors said she was fearful that she could have been exposed as there were many other people in the same house.

Concern over the whereabouts of the seven girls who were reported missing, turned to relief after they were found.

Parents of the teenagers have received bashing with many questioning them over their hands-off approach to parenting.

Unwanted pregnancies

The past eight months have been an anxious period for parents with school-going children, especially girls, who will bear the long term effects of the pandemic. Already, the number of underage pregnancies are on the rise.

The lengthy period at home due to the coronavirus has exposed children to technology and social media more.

The activities that young people previously relied on for stability and joy have been disrupted and replaced by more time on Instagram, Facebook and other social media sites where predators lie in wait.

Preliminary investigations on the girls’ disappearance show that none of them was harmed.

Police say they left home by consent and when they were not enjoying life outdoors, the girls and their friends remained indoors where they had drinks and food.

The two who returned to their parent’s homes would travel almost on a daily basis to the city centre where the six friends would meet and party.

Detectives from the DCI Child Protection Unit and the Criminal Intelligence Bureau have earmarked two houses whose owners will be questioned.

The investigators believe the owners of these houses, whom they have established know each other, were the masterminds of the girl’s disappearance.

The girls were first questioned by a combined team of Crime Research and  Intelligence Bureau (CRIB) together with officers from the Child Protection Unit on Friday at the Nairobi County DCI offices.

The interrogations session went on till late in the night but none of the minors agreed to speak out.

Yesterday, the investigations team conducted a second round of questioning at the DCI training school in South C.

The children were put in separate groups and their parents locked out of the interview room.

The Sunday Standard had an opportunity to speak to two of the children just before going into their interview room.

And in the presence of their parents, the girls did not shy away from explaining what transpired.

“I spoke to my mum and explained that I was fine. I don’t know why she was in a panic when she knew very well what we were up to,” said one of the girls who was in the Thika group.

Her friend told The Sunday Standard that she had sought permission from her mother to join her friend in the Thika trip.

“I was in shock when I saw the video online that my friend was missing. She called the parents just before we returned to town,” said the girl.

From their confidence and coherence, it is easy to pick that they are all in prestigious schools.

All the girls are students at prestigious secondary schools some in the national category.

Criminal gang

Kinoti linked the disappearance of the minors to a criminal gang that has been luring high school girls for orgies.

Carty Gang are almost similar to other underground groups from Eastlands in Nairobi.

Their logo, printed in promotional T-shirts and hoodies worn in their music videos, is a skull with a combat helmet and crossed AK47 rifles.

They revel in guns, drugs, women and violence. Their videos are low budget, poorly shot and under edited.

In one of their music videos, the artists, a group of four teens, are wearing balaclavas and sing about how they use drugs to cope.

Some of the artists in the group go by stage names Mr Shad and Trevo. The DCI is keen on busting this ring.

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