Four arrested with illegal cigarettes valued at Shs140 million

Four arrested with illegal cigarettes valued at Shs140 million
The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) on Friday busted a racket of cigarette smugglers at Senga in Wakiso district. PHOTO/Courtesy

Summary:

  • URA enforcement team in Uganda arrested four suspected smugglers and seized 64 boxes of cigarettes worth UGX140 million in Ssenge Village. The smuggled goods lacked proper tax stamps and health warnings. Despite a bribery attempt, the suspects were apprehended. URA emphasized the importance of combating smuggling and urged traders to use legal channels for importing goods.

The enforcement team of the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has apprehended four suspected smugglers and seized 64 boxes of cigarettes valued at UGX140 million in Ssenge Village, Naluvule Parish, Wakiso District.

Acting on a tip-off from an informant, the quartet was arrested last Friday after the cigarettes were illicitly brought into the country through porous border points and stored at a residence in Ssenge before reaching the market.

Additionally, URA detained four individuals linked to the illicit goods, comprising 59 boxes of ORIS Slims cigarettes and 5 boxes of Platinum Seven. Furthermore, three vehicles employed in transporting the smuggled cigarettes were seized: a Vitz with registration UBN 404Y, a Super Custom bearing UBA 683G, and a Subaru Forester registered as UBK 718X.

The URA enforcement team disclosed that they received credible intelligence from informants regarding the location where the smuggled cigarettes were stashed before being transported to Kampala City Centre for distribution.

“We secured the premises around 8:00 PM on Thursday, and despite the suspects attempting to bribe us with UGX 10 million for their release, we apprehended them,” stated the URA enforcement team.

The UGX 10 million bribe will serve as evidence in court, and the suspects are presently in police custody.

Addressing journalists at the consolidation center in Ssenge, Ibrahim Bbossa, URA’s Assistant Commissioner of Public and Corporate Affairs, highlighted smuggling as one of the significant challenges the authority faces.

“Smugglers act out of greed and unfairly disadvantage traders who abide by tax regulations. The consequences of smuggling are severe, including hefty fines, prosecution, and forfeiture of vehicles,” emphasized Bbossa.

He underscored that smugglers undermine the entire cigarette industry by evading taxes and failing to comply with health and taxation laws, evident in the absence of health warnings and digital tax stamps on the impounded cigarettes.

Bbossa commended the enforcement officers for rejecting bribes and upholding URA’s integrity standards.

Moses Wanjalo, URA’s Manager of Customs Enforcement, revealed that the authority has bolstered intelligence operations nationwide to combat smuggling, urging traders to adhere to legitimate channels when importing goods into Uganda.

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