December 5, 2017 – Mutuati, Meru County, Kenya
Meru County is the sixth largest urban center in Kenya, home to an estimated 1.4 million people. The most populous city is Meru, the county seat. Throughout the County there are towns surrounded by farms and homesteads. Agents from the Anti-Counterfeit Agency along with Police Officers from the Investigative Unit visited a homestead on the outskirts of the town of Mutuati armed with a search warrant that was the culmination of a months long investigation.
The homestead that was raided was listed by the raiding party as being owned by Mr. Koomeconsidered, alias Richard Kroome. Although Mr. Koomeconsidered was able to escape during the raid, police have identified him as the leader of the organized counterfeit liquor operation that was discovered on the property. Along with six suspects who were taken into custody, the joint investigative units uncovered an assembly line counterfeit alcohol production operation.
Agents seized the production line machinery along with approximately 50,000 liters of fake alcohol estimated to have a retail value of KSH 40 Million, equal to 388,000 USD. Officers recovered rolls of counterfeit KRA Tax Stamps worth an estimated KSH 27 Million, along with counterfeit liquor labels representing 5 different trademarked brands. Police seized an unaccounted number of empty bottles and caps from storage sheds throughout the homestead along with 10 drums of industrial chemical alcohol often used in the production of cleaning products.
The investigation began on a tip from the legal alcohol producers when they noticed a sharp downturn in their reorders throughout the county. Throughout the past year liquor reorders continued to decline at a rapid rate, to the point where there was more product on store shelves than what had been shipped to the region by the legal liquor distributors. Judging from the sales numbers provided to the Anti-Counterfeiting Agency, police estimated that the homestead counterfeit liquor assembly line was in operation for about a year, essentially capturing a lion share of the liquor market in Meru County.
The leader of the joint raid, Lindsey Kipkemoi, ACA assistant director of enforcement, noted that along with the health dangers to consumers posed by this homestead counterfeit liquor assembly line, the loss of tax revenue was significant. Mr. Kipkemoi noted that the industrial strength alcohol along with the unknown chemicals can have serious health effects on consumers.
The suspects arrested on the homestead were being transported to Nairobi for arraignment. The lead police investigator for the Department of Criminal Investigation Operations (DCIO), Josephat Mukangai, said the transfer to Nairobi for arraignment was to circumvent any interference by the Meru Courts. He also noted that his Detective are in pursuit of Mr. Koomeconsidered, alias Richard Kroome, the devious mastermind of this homestead counterfeit alcohol production facility that has put thousands of alcohol consumers lives at risk.
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