NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 28 – It sounds like what you would read in crime fiction.
A member of the flying squad stands with an orange cap on, an AK-47 in each hand. He has a shadow of beard growth speckled white and wears jeans and sneakers.
“I haven’t slept since yesterday morning,” he says rubbing a hand over his face.
He hasn’t slept because he was on a sting operation.
A short distance away, two suspects handcuffed to each other shuffle into the Nairobi provincial Criminal Investigative Department headquarters, eyes downcast.
They are police officers allegedly implicated in the theft of the bales of second hand clothes and tyres piled all around us. There are more than 120 tyres and the bales of clothes contain everything from children’s clothes to adults’ jeans.
“There were even two sacks of sugar,” Munga Nyale, the Officer-in-Charge of the flying squad explains.
It all went down at 2am; fifteen accomplices raided the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) warehouses at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and, it wasn’t the first time.
About a month ago phones worth Sh40 million – stolen from the KRA warehouses at the airport – were recovered in Ongata Rongai.
“Two weeks ago we lost about 105 tyres,” Nyale adds.
It is perhaps unsurprising to learn it was an inside job with both of the handcuffed constables having been based at the airport.
It was however surprising to learn that one of the officers was investigating the other for the theft of the mobile phones recovered in Rongai.
“They were so confident they’d never be discovered they gave me Sh500 to say I didn’t see anything,” the flying squad operative who took part in the sting explains.
At the time, he posed as a sweeper as he and his operatives lay in wait.
And so as they went down North Airport Road, two lorries ferrying the loot and a couple of smaller cars in tow. They must have thought they had gotten away with it another time until the net came sweeping down.
The suspects who also include a former police officer are to be arraigned in court Thursday.