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Lang’ata police bust bhang syndicate at “Karen ATM”

By Hilary Kimuyu January 24th, 2024 2 min read

Police in Lang’ata on January 24, 2023, raided Karen, a Nairobi suburb, and seized bhang near a selling point dubbed ‘ATM’.

They also arrested three people in connection with the distribution of the banned substance in the area.

The operation, led by Langata Officer Commanding Police Division (OCPD) Monica Kimani, further uncovered a new strategy by drug dealers to target high-end customers in affluent neighbourhoods.

According to Ms Kimani, the den has been operating for years without the knowledge of the authorities.

“We conducted an operation in Liberty in Karen State after receiving information about drug sales. On arrival, I confirmed that the reports were true. The location was behind shops and near garages. Three people were arrested and they will be taken to court,” she said.

It was revealed that the unconventional ATM setup allowed buyers and sellers to avoid face-to-face interactions, using technology to maintain their anonymity.

Customers entering the shop would place their orders via a sophisticated audio communication system. Payments were then made using mobile money to avoid direct contact between the seller and the buyer.

Upon confirmation of payment, the drug dealer would discreetly pass the illegal substances through a small hole drilled in a tinted glass.

Officer Kimani said the tinted glass was strategically installed to prevent customers from identifying the dealers.

Although the police did not disclose the estimated value of the drugs seized, they confirmed that a significant amount had been seized during the operation.

She revealed that the ‘Karen Bhang ATM’ was used by students from at least 8 universities to procure the contraband, which she said was criminal.

Unfortunately, she added that the students who queued up there under the guise of using the ATM were visiting the place to buy drugs.

The OCPD has now issued a stern warning to the operators and the owner, who is currently at large, urging them to surrender to the authorities and to continue to advise university students to stay away from drugs.

“My advice to the youth, especially given the concentration of universities in this area, is to refrain from using drugs. I am deeply concerned about the opposition we encountered from many people present during the operation,” she urged.

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