Kenya: How Police Used Girlfriend to Track Central's Most Wanted Criminal

14 October 2019

Following the killing of Central Kenya's most wanted gangster last week, details into his deadly reign have since emerged.

It has also been revealed how he used rogue police officers to evade arrest for over a year.

At exactly 8pm on Thursday, Elias Kiriithi Gichuki lay dead on the cold corridor of a shop at Blue Valley suburb in Nyeri Town, his hand still clutching onto a Ceska pistol.

His deadly reign is finally over and now police can afford a sigh of relief after over a year of chasing a man with the proverbial nine lives of a cat.

ROGUE OFFICERS

A peek into his reign has since revealed how, with the help of some rogue officers, some high ranking, Gichuki managed to abduct, rob, maim and even kill.

He is the man believed to have planned the execution of Kamakwa Location Chief Peter Kimiti in July 2018.

The murder of the administrator was meant to send a message to law enforcers and locals of what would befall whoever dared inform on Gichuki or go after him.

Like any other armed robber, his days were numbered and his trusting a woman would see his downfall come sooner that he would have anticipated.

PLANNED AMBUSH

Together with one of his most trusted lieutenants, Gichuki had planned to ambush the owner of a local entertainment joint in Majengo slums on Thursday night.

They are said to have been after money and a firearm from the businessman who is a licensed gun holder.

What Gichuki did not know was that detectives had managed to turn one of his many girlfriends against him and had been tracking his movements for close to a week.

Police were aware of his next target and for the first time were ahead of the most slippery gangster.

PHONE TRACKED

By Wednesday night, using his phone number, they had managed to pin his exact location in one of his hideouts in Ngangarithi estate.

For the next 20 hours, they kept monitoring the phone's signal which kept going on and off, a tactic Kiriithi often used to throw police off track.

A few minutes to 8pm on Thursday, as was his tactic, he set out to lay ambush on the targeted businessman near the entertainment joint just outside Nyeri Town.

Detectives had already set up a stakeout for the duo by the time they arrived on a motorcycle.

As soon as he arrived, the officers made a move for him and Gichuki responded by opening fire. His accomplice took off on the motorcycle leaving him behind.

SHOOTOUT

Rather than run into the sprawling slums, Gichuki decided to put up a fight and, armed with a Ceska pistol, he took cover outside a shop, engaging police in a gunfight.

Although outnumbered and outgunned, he put up a fight for close to 20minutes, firing an entire magazine at the police officers.

As he attempted to put another magazine into his pistol, the police finally overpowered him, shooting him in the chest and head.

"His accomplice managed to flee on a motorcycle but we have officers in pursuit. We recovered a pistol from the suspect and a loaded magazine with 15 rounds of ammunition," Nyeri Central police boss Paul Kuria said in a statement.

Preliminary findings have since revealed that the Ceska pistol recovered from the slain gangster had been stolen last month from a police officer attached to the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit at his residence in Juja, Kiambu County.

Police believe Gichuki was part of the gang that robbed the officer.

NO ORDINARY THUG

The death of the gangster may have come as a routine police operation but Gichuki was no ordinary thug.

He was smart, tactical and well networked even inside the police department.

The 29-year-old native of Kamakwa can only be likened to the infamous trio of Wanugu, Wacucu and Matheri, who were once Kenya's most wanted gangsters.

Gichuki had managed to copy their tactics, turning rogue officer into allies and using women's homes as hideouts.

Wanugu and Wacucu also hailed from Kamakwa in Nyeri Town.

In fact, Gichuki was the self-proclaimed heir to the criminal throne of Wanugu and often linked himself to the Wanugu lineage.

RUSH HOURS

His mode of operation involved striking during rush hours as his victims went home from work.

During this time, human traffic is high and makes it difficult for police to engage in a shootout.

He preferred to operate in gangs of three or four and would often wear denim pants, hooded jackets and caps to conceal his identity.

Also, whenever he knew some "jobs" were too risky, he would send out his deputies.

However, what gave him the edge over the police was his ability know of their operations, allowing him to evade arrest. His prowess in handling firearms earned him the title sniper, one of his many aliases.

His other aliases were Tony, Munene and Mzae.

WEAPONS

His weapons of choice were AK-47 rifles and Ceska pistols.

He had managed to infiltrate the police department where rogue officers would alert him of patrols and operations to hunt him down.

Some senior police officers are also said to have been in his payroll and he is also said to have had sympathisers inside the military who harboured him.

On six separate occasions, he missed death narrowly, managing to literally slip away as police arrived at his many hideouts.

At times during shootouts, he would use victims as human shields and preferred motorcycles for escape.

WANTED MAN

Before his death, he was wanted for murder and robbery with violence in Nyeri, Kiambu, Murang'a and parts of Nakuru and Nairobi for over two years.

"He has been on our radar for a very long time and we were actually tracking him down when he tried to rob the joint," Nyeri Central Sub-County Police Commander Paul Kuria said.

Among the high profile cases he was linked to was the murders of Simon Kahihia, a businessman in Nyeri who was shot dead outside his home last year.

But it is the killing of the Kamakwa chief that heightened the hunt for Gichuki and raised his profile to the most wanted man in the region.

Police say he masterminded the administrator's killing for informing police of his gang's activities in Kamakwa.

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