Photos: Inside an illegal distillery in Athi River
A multi-agency security team in Athi River, Machakos County on Thursday raided an unlicensed distillery and arrested at least 24 suspects believed to be behind the business.
The raid was carried out by a team of officers from agencies including the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), the Kenya Revenue Authority and the local security team.
During the sting operation at Kingoni warehouses, the team which arrived at around 3 pm on Wednesday were unable to access the facility after the workers locked themselves inside and started destroying the evidence.
A KRA officer who was at the scene said they could not break in and had to follow the law.
“They were destroying the factory overnight and the evidence. We will charge them with the illegal production of alcoholic products. Our team laid siege overnight till they managed to get in at 4 in the morning,” he said.
When the Nairobi News team visited the area on Thursday morning, the team from KRA were busy documenting the evidence.
In one of the warehouses, there was nothing but broken glass scattered all over.
“These people locked themselves inside and destroyed the evidence, but we managed to arrest at least 24 suspects. We suspect 22 of them are casual workers here and two are the owners of this illegal brewery,” he added.
KRA officers who were summoned to verify whether the stamps were genuine could not give an immediate answer, saying some of them bore features similar to those of genuine ones and promised to conduct further investigations.
They summoned their investigating arm to seal the warehouse as a crime scene.
He said the arrests and recovery of the goods was a major breakthrough in the fight against counterfeits, adding that more raids will be conducted in a bid to wipe out the menace in the area.
Elle Kenya Limited says on the labels of their drinks that it is located along Umoja 3, Kangundo Road, but the warehouse is located in Athi River, near the Great Wall estate.
They manufacture at least three brands of liquor, namely Everest Vodka, Sir Antonio Vodka and Sir Antonio Superior Vodka, all in 250ml bottles.
He said the suspects who are in police custody would be taken to court to face various charges.
“Whenever we get the information we shall continue with such raids on illegal factories involved in the production of counterfeit products and this operation will go on until we reinstate sanity in the liquor sector,” he said.