A retired police officer is on the run in Murang'a County after 2,075 crates of illicit alcoholic drinks were found in his godown during a police operation.
"We are after him. We know his most likely hideouts and we are monitoring them. His case is a clear testimony that this war against illicit brews and narcotics has no favourites," said Murang'a South Deputy County Commissioner Gitonga Murungi.
Police told Nation.Africa that a politician for whom the suspect worked as a bodyguard during election campaigns allegedly betrayed him.
“Every time the police tried to raid his premises, he would invoke the name of the politician to intimidate our junior officers. But this time he was not lucky as four of his workers and the politician turned against him, prompting us to strike," said a senior officer.
Police sources said the former policeman had been warned by the Kigumo constituency politician to abandon his illegal distillery business, but had ignored the warning.
“Tuesday's raid was possible after we received a precise, timely and factual tip-off from members of the public who had witnessed the consignment being unloaded at a private house,” said Mr Murungi.
He added that a team from the sub-county Security and Intelligence Committee raided the house and seized the contraband.
“We engaged officers from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Anti-Counterfeit Authority and the Kenya Bureau of Standards to authenticate the consignment. The verdict was that the former policeman was running an illegal business," he said.
Mr Murungi said the team scrutinised the packaging of the alcohol, the KRA excise stamps affixed to the bottles and samples were tested.
"It turned out that the government would get nothing as tax if the consignment reached the market, public health standards would be compromised and the dealer would be making illegal profits in a criminal enterprise," he said.
In Maragua town, Deputy District Commissioner Joshua Okello announced the seizure of 100 crates of illicit drinks destined for the local market.
"The consignment was smuggled into the town during the night and our vigilance managed to intercept it as it was being unloaded at a makeshift godown on a back road," he said.
Mr Okello warned bar owners against stocking any brand that has not been approved by both the KRA and the Kenya Bureau of Standards.
"Any bar caught stocking contraband will have its licence application thrown out. We are fighting illegal brews and narcotics and at the same time working hard to reduce the number of bars by half," he said.
Mr Murungi said both consignments would be kept as evidence pending the arrest of the suspects.
The fight against alcoholism, drugs and impunity in the liquor trade is being spearheaded by President William Ruto and coordinated by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.
It was launched in Kiambu, Nyandarua, Murang'a, Kirinyaga and Nyeri counties before being rolled out in Nakuru County on Monday.
"The war will be gradually rolled out in other parts of the country with the mother of all planned for the Coast region where drug barons think they have entrenched themselves with some sort of gods," Mr Gachagua said in Nakuru on Monday.