Four arrested with contraband cigarettes worth Shs140 million

Wakiso, (UG): The Uganda Revenue Authority – URA enforcement tem has arrested four suspected smugglers and impounded 64 boxes of cigarettes estimated at UGX140 million in Ssenge Village, Naluvule Parish, Wakiso District.

The quartet was arrested on Friday following a tip-off by an informer after the cigarettes had been smuggled into the country through porous border points and consolidated at a house in Ssenge before getting to the market.

URA also arrested four people in connection with the contraband consisting of 59 boxes of ORIS Slims cigarettes and 5 boxes of Platinum Seven. Three motor vehicles used in conveying the smuggled cigarettes have equally been impounded. These include a Vitz UBN 404Y, a Super Custom UBA 683G, and a Subaru Forester UBK 718X.

The URA enforcement team noted that they received credible intel from informants about the house where the smuggled cigarettes had been kept awaiting transportation to Kampala City Centre for sale.

“We sealed off the place at around 8:00 PM on Thursday night and the suspects gave us a bribe of UGX 10 million to be let free, but we got the money and arrested them too,” explained the URA enforcement team.

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The UGX 10 million will be used as an exhibit in courts of law. The suspects are currently in Police Custody.

Speaking to journalists at the consolidation centre in Ssenge, URA’s Assistant Commissioner of Public and Corporate Affairs Ibrahim Bbossa has indicated that one of the many challenges URA is still grappling with is smuggling.

“People who smuggle are greedy and unfair to traders who pay tax. But I would like to remind Ugandans that the cost of smuggling is so high since there are hefty fines involved, prosecution and loss of a vehicle used in smuggling are forfeited to the state,” said Bbossa.

He added that smugglers do not want to pay taxes like other traders on the Ugandan market putting a strain on the entire industry dealing in cigarettes.

It should be noted that the impounded cigarettes did not have a health warning as required by law and also no digital tax stamps.

“These cigarettes are contraband since they have no digital stamps and they will be destroyed because they are not allowed on the Ugandan market,” Bbossa emphasized.

He applauded the enforcement officers for refusing to be bribed and for standing tall on the URA pillar of integrity.

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The URA Manager of Customs Enforcement, Moses Wanjalo has intimated that URA has enhanced intelligence across the country to curb the vice of smuggling. He advised traders to use the right channels to bring goods onto the Ugandan market.

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