Uganda Revenue Authority has bust a cigarette smuggling racket that has been operating across Koboko and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
This week on Monday at around 10.00 pm, URA enforcement officers swung into action and impounded the suspected truck, registration number, UBA 408U following a tip-off by the intelligence.
Upon first verification, 80 bags of charcoal were discovered stacked near the door as a way of concealing the cigarettes. The second undertaking of verification revealed at least 240 bags of 125 bombers of SuperMatch cigarettes made in Uganda and marked for export. There were also 10 cartons of Oris cigarettes concealed in the same truck.
During interrogation, Patrick Kachope, the truck driver said he was on his way to Kampala to drop off the smuggled cigarettes at the KK terminal in Arua Park. He says he had been promised payment of Shs 2.5m once this task was executed.
According to Philip Ofubo, the URA customs officer behind “the catch”, the country lost about Shs 700 million of revenue. And since cigarettes are contrabands, they are set to be destroyed to rid the market of other prohibited products like; cosmetics, used computers, used fridges and polythene bags among others.
Burning illicit cigarettes ensures visibility in the fight against such illegal activities and ensures the products cannot return to the market. It also acts as a deterrent measure to perpetrators to discourage them from engaging in such illegal trade due to the high risk and losses incurred.
Julius Nkwasire, the assistant commissioner enforcement urged the public to hire credible persons, especially clearing agents.
“If you have a truck, be sure of the driver you are recruiting and guide him. Keep checking them and ensure they offload goods within the customs-controlled area,” Nkwasire said.