With the limited traffic at the Airport, the very last thing on anyone’s mind would be the transportation of contraband narcotics due to the ease with which the authorities can smoke one out. It is equally peculiar for a recipe book, a piece of synthetic hair, or a gift pack being sent through an international courier to turn out to be a vehicle for drug trafficking.
Yet this is exactly what happened at Entebbe International Airport recently as suspicious export packages were red-flagged by the Airport Container Control Unit, a UNODC-WCO unit formed at the airport comprising of URA Customs, Aviation Anti-Narcotics police, and Uganda Wildlife Authority to build capacity in improving risk management, trade facilitation, and prevention of cross-border movement of illicit goods.
In the wake of the new Commissioner Customs Department, Abel Kagumire’s rallying call to staff for more vigilance in managing export declarations, the Entebbe Customs Enforcement team has increased their interest in exports.
The statement from URA continues to read that they are on high alert to net individuals hoping to take advantage of the COVID-19 lockdown which affected international passenger travel. Contraband traffickers had since turned to use a courier and postal companies to transport illicit drugs and other types of contraband.
On 28th August 2020, the team intercepted two packages, one declared as containing 4 pieces of synthetic hair destined for India and another falsely declared as a gift set comprising of a shirt, tie, and a watch destined for Cameroon. An extensive check unearthed 830gms of heroin concealed in a false bottom of the gift box created by the drug traffickers to avoid detection.
On 3rd September 2020, Customs Enforcement and the Aviation Police netted a package containing a recipe book destined for Greece. Upon extensively searching the consignment, 300gms of heroin were found concealed within the hardcover pages of the book.
The total drugs seized amounted to 1,040gms worth about UGX 460 Million on the black market. The suspected drug traffickers were apprehended and are currently assisting police with investigations to bring down the entire racket.