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Arrested narcotics chiefs sent to Nalufenya

Already heavily criticized for sometimes operating as a militia of the ruling party, Uganda police over the weekend came face-to-face with a multi-billion narcotics racket involving top officers within its ranks.

Nine officers attached to its illegal drugs department, including the commissioner in charge of narcotics, Tinka Zerugaba, were confirmed to be under arrest as investigations into the scandal unfolded.

The police spokesman in charge of Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Directorate (CIID), Vincent Sekate,  said the suspects were detained at the notorious Nalufenya police station in Jinja.

“Their file is still at CIID headquarters with the lead team investigator, Mark Odongo. I don’t know when they will appear in court since investigations are still on,” he said.

Nalufenya police station

Zerugaba was formerly head of intelligence, Aviation Police at Entebbe International Airport. Also arrested was SCP Lodovic Awita, the commandant of Very Important Persons Protection Unit (VIPPU). Awita was also a former commandant of Aviation police.  

Others are Detective Superintendent of Police Mataric Emmoly Nataria, the former O/C CIID Entebbe Aviation police (about two years ago Nataria was suspended for misconduct), SP David Francis Owiny, VIPPU’s Michael Semuwemba, Sgt Julius Mwesigwa, Sgt Deogratious Muhebwa, Cpl Derrick Odiambo and PC Eriphase Karugaba.

They are being held on allegations of tampering with narcotics exhibits and theft of 85kg of narcotics drugs, with an estimated street value of Shs 13 billion, from police stores between 2011 and 2015.

Sekate said the officers were arrested by Flying Squad headed by Herbert Muhangi on Friday and taken to Nalufenya for safe custody. Flying Squad is a police unit authorised to combat serious crime.

Sekate said the suspects would be charged with tampering with narcotics exhibits and that investigations have been ongoing at CIID headquarters since 2015.

“We are in the process of auditing and reviewing the department of anti-narcotics in police. This is why the officers were arrested since drugs had been lost on the way and in police stores. We are cleaning up wrong elements,” he said.

Police sources allege that the suspects have not been destroying narcotics drugs after arresting traffickers.

“The suspected police officers have been selling the drugs which they had recovered from the narcotics drug suspects.

They had been stealing these drugs from police stores and selling them to businessmen in town behind doors. So, police started investigations until they arrested them,” a source said.

Sources said the theft of the 85kg was reported at Entebbe police station in 2015. Investigations stalled – allegedly because of interference from colluding officers in counter terrorism and intelligence.

When Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura got intelligence information that his officers were conniving with drug traffickers to switch drugs, he reportedly ordered the Police Compliance Unit led by SSP Susan Kasingye to take up the matter.

SSP Kasingye’s investigations included a raid on the exhibit stores at Aviation police and impounding of narcotics exhibits. When checked at government analytical laboratory in Wandegeya, tests revealed that the contents of the packets had been switched with maize flour.

Entebbe has become notorious as a transit route for narcotics smugglers mainly because Uganda’s laws had until recently been extremely lenient to people arrested with controlled substances. A suspected trafficker usually walked free after paying between just Shs 1 million and Shs 2 million in fines.

Under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act, 2016, an attempt was made to stiffen penalties with a fine of Shs 10 million or three times the market value of the drug, whichever is greater, or imprisonment of a minimum of ten years or both.

zurah@observer.ug  

Comments   

+2 #1 WADADA rogers 2017-11-06 08:18
Yes, its operation clean up the Police force, i wonder why their head has not been put under detention yet
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+2 #2 aloys 2017-11-06 13:43
SINCE THE FISH STARTS ROTTING FROM THE HEAD, Then arresting small boys wont liberate us from the odour!

IT IS REALLY HARD TO BELIEVE THE POLICE OFFICES SOLD OFF ALL THE NARCOTICS- GIVEN THE WAY THEY MANHANDLE CIVILIANS. IT MAKES ONE THINK, THEY ARE THE GREATEST CONSUMERS.
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+2 #3 saeguya 2017-11-06 14:02
Either the Ugandan Security Establishment Is Incompetent, or they just look on and say 'when you betray us we have something against you'.

Police officers are peasants and we all know they make next to nothing as far as pay.

13 billion is a lot of money that anyone with a peanut size brain would have noticed that something was amiss. Change of lifestyle and so on.

Why Nalufenya? Are the suspects involved in subversive activities or are they terrorists?
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0 #4 Mubiru 2017-11-06 17:44
The mop-headed witticisms resorted to by the arresting people no longer impress any one with an iota of brain.

Any body with Uganda at heart is fed up with these fake arrests which are always followed by the so called "bails" which is another word for freeing the criminals.

That is why the same thieves continue their "trade" knowing very well that their "arrests" are meaningless.

These are just publicity stunt to fool the already stupid world of funders who don't see anything wrong with events in Uganda, to pour in more funds.

These funds are extracted from the sweat of the overseas taxpayers, The so called police bonds to the criminal is a misnomer for being released without even appearing in courts. God help us.
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0 #5 faiswar 2017-11-07 15:25
That's good job flying scd
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0 #6 faiswar 2017-11-07 15:25
Good job flying
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