KENYA – A multi-agency team has seized suspected illicit alcohol packaged as authentic brands from an illegal distiller along Nairobi County’s Eastern Bypass.

The crew was successful in recovering a large quantity of alcoholic beverages that lacked authentic Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) stamps.

The alcoholic beverages were confiscated, according to police led by lead detectives, at a location inside a huge business park where they were being packaged for distribution to markets including Ruiru, Eastern Bypass, Thika, and Weitethie.

Officers from the Kenya Police, Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), and KRA surrounded the distillery where the alcohol, with an estimated street value of Ksh 100 million (U.S$ 797,448), was being made.

Under the direction of Abdullahi Shurie, head of the DCI Economic Crimes Unit, the team loaded two trailers with hundreds of cartons containing alcohol and other distilling supplies.

The drinks, which bore the names of some well-known brands, were being distilled in what appeared to be an unprofessional, improvised distillery.

According to Shurie, authorities are searching for the property’s owner who was absent when the raid took place.

Under the condition of anonymity, a police source claimed that KRA was losing millions of shillings in daily revenue to companies that flout the law.

Counterfeit liquor on the rise

A significant shipment of fake alcoholic beverages was seized at a residential property in Makongeni, Thika, Kiambu county, late last month as a result of an investigation into high-level tax evasion schemes by traders dealing in alcoholic products.

The operation conducted by detectives and officials from the KRA saw over 300 cartons containing alcoholic drinks impounded.

According to a statement from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), the cartons were destined for different stores.

“The counterfeited drinks whose safety to consumers could not be immediately ascertained, were packaged in branded bottles that are popular with the youth including, Kane Extra, King Vodka, Nest Vodka, Hunters Vodka, Chrome Vodka, Blue Ice Vodka, Konyagi, Triple Ace, Hunters Vodka, K.C Vodka, Kibao among others,” wrote DCI on Twitter.

Police in Murang’a County also recently seized assorted brands of fake alcohol that were stashed in a local pub in Murang’a town.

Thomas Nyoro, the Deputy County Commissioner (DCC) for Murang’a East, reported that the police seized counterfeit alcohol worth ksh200,000 (U.S$ 1606) from a bar in the Grogon neighborhood because the alcohol brands lacked standardization marks for products intended for sale in Kenya.

“We confiscated 17 crates of assorted brands of liquor after they were found without Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) sticker and Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) quality mark,” he said, adding that the said liquor will undergo inspection by the relevant authorities to ascertain their quality standard.

According to Mr. Nyoro, the neighborhood police organized a crackdown in response to a public uproar over the increase in the production and distribution of illicit alcohol in the region.

“There has been an outcry in Murang’a and Mt Kenya region over the rampant consumption of cheap counterfeit liquor in the market centres leading to increased alcoholism among our male youth,” he said.

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