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Nakuru’s lush green marijuana farms

RIFT VALLEY
By Kennedy Gachuhi | November 3rd 2021

 

Police officers at a farm where a suspect was found to have cultivated bhang worth Sh5.9 million on his quarter acre land in Baraka, Bahati on November 1, 2021. [Kennedy Gachuhi, Standard].

From enclosed compounds to greenhouses, they have been growing bhang and selling it without raising eyebrows.

And when those employed by the growers are arrested, they always conceal the origin of the substance.

The trade has been going on for years along the major roads of Nakuru County, forcing security agencies to go back to the drawing board to unravel where the plant is grown.

On Monday evening, police in Bahati, acting on a tipoff, raided the home of 29-year-old John Mungai Mwangi in Baraka village. The home is well fenced with a thick and tall live fence.

A footpath leading to his house showed that it was often used although by a few people. The path leads to an opening into a small compound on which his house stands.

A kitchen garden facing the house had bhang stems over four feet tall. There is a smaller gate leading to the quarter acre farm where bhang was grown.

“Who dares to plant this amount of bhang on their land?” exclaimed a detective who struggled to get a better view of the parcel covered in bhang and maize plantation.

The presence of detectives at the home attracted the villagers. They were surprised at the quantity of bhang grown on the farm adjacent to their farms and a road.

But soon after the police asked for volunteers to help uproot the crop, the residents scattered. They feared for their lives and did not want to be involved.

An hour later, the police led by Bahati sub-County police commander Samson Andanje and a team from the Anti-Narcotics Unit uprooted the plants.

“We uprooted bhang with an estimated street value of Sh5.94 million. The suspect vanished after learning of the raid. The police are searching for him,” said Andanje. Bahati deputy county commissioner Macharia Gathungu said a multiagency team had started combing the surrounding maize plantations.

“The area is expansive with a few homes making it possible for such criminals to grow bhang. If the quantity of bhang found today made its way to the market, it would have caused serious harm,” said Macharia.

On October 22, the police raided a suspect’s home in Bondeni slum, Nakuru East, where bhang worth Sh1.2 million was found stashed in different types of packaging.

Most of the bhang had been processed and some of it was still raw waiting to be packed in colourful sachets. “We met resistance from some local youth while trying to access the house. The occupant escaped, but we recovered the bhang,” said Nakuru East sub-County police commander Elena Kabukuru.

The police could not immediately verify the source and destination of the bhang netted in Bondeni. On April 23, detectives raided a home in London Estate where mature bhang estimated to be worth Sh15 million was being grown.

Nakuru Criminal Investigations Officer Anthony Sunguti said the suspect had grown bhang on his quarter-acre plot.

Three suspects, Victor Kung’u Wainaina, Broddus Wainaina Kung’u and Dennis Matete claimed that they were cultivating the bhang on behalf of a registered community-based organisation (CBO).

“How come the police are destroying this without consultation? It is malicious damage to CBO property, yet we plant trees with them in the forests. This is unfair,” said Victor.

In February this year, the police in Naivasha destroyed bhang worth Sh81 million. The suspects had harvested the it from Kedong ranch.

Fourteen suspects were arrested and taken to court. The police destroyed over 3,000 stems bhang the suspects were drying in nearby caves.

“We believe there is a major cartel involved in this trade. We shall do everything possible to ensure there is surveillance on the ranch,” said Naivasha sub-County Commissioner Mutua Kisilu. 

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