KAMPALA. Statistics from Interpol Uganda place Ugandans as top drug smugglers in 2017.
The data also shows that drugs worth Shs5b were intercepted at Entebbe International Airport last year.
The report also says at least eight Ugandans were arrested while smuggling out part of the intercepted drugs worth Shs4b.
The figures compiled by the drug trafficking desk from January to December 2017, show that 34.5kg of methamphetamine worth Shs3.7b were seized from three Ugandans.
They are Mr Stanley Kavuma, Mr David Kavuma, and Mr Sam Karamagi.
Mr Kavuma was intercepted with 10kg of methamphetamine on May 19, while Mr Kavuma was interrupted on October 10 with 4.5kg, and Mr Karamagi seized with 20kg of methamphetamine on November 8, 2017.
A police officer at the drug trafficking desk said this was the first time Ugandans were found with such a huge volume of methamphetamine drugs because they are expensive and rarely smuggled through East Africa.
“A kilogramme of methamphetamine costs about $30,000 (about Shs110.3m), especially in Asia and South America.
“In 2016, we arrested one Ugandan who had only one kilogramme of methamphetamine, but we were surprised that a Uganda could smuggle over 20kg,” the officer said.
Interpol spokesperson Vincent Ssekatte said more Ugandans have dared to smuggle expensive drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine because of the huge amounts of money involved in the illicit trade.
“A single pellet of cocaine costs more than a $100 (about Shs367,714) and sometimes we are told it could fetch $200 (about Shs735,428). Because of the huge amounts of money involved in such illegal businesses many have decided to take risks,” Mr Ssekatte said.
Other five Ugandans; Rynet Namuli, Kanamwanje Mukasa, Grace Magambo, Ismail Kigozi, Sheilah Nanyonga, and Moses Kivumbi were arrested with 16kg of heroin valued Shs692m.
“We arrested Kigozi smuggling 11kg of heroin, Nanyonga was smuggling 3kg and four other Ugandans smuggling heroin in grammes. We received information from our Interpol correspondences and we arrested them at the airport [Entebbe],” Mr Ssekatte said.
He said Interpol also arrested three Italian nationals he identified as Nuncio Sentaniezo, Mario Maestro, and Giovanm Bortdomoil, with 13kg of heroin worth Shs598m.
Police also arrested three Nigerians; Augustine Nwuasoanya Chukwuemeka, Faith Ogbioli, and Ezenwa Akim Okwuchukwa with cocaine and heroin valued at Shs491m.
“We also arrested two Serbians with cocaine and heroin close to 3kg and estimated to cost about Shs240m. We also arrested other eight individuals from countries including USA, Sweden, Somalia, Angola, Mauritania, Portugal, Turkey, and Latvia,” the report reads in part.
In total, Interpol recorded 26 cases of drug smuggling involving 23 suspects whose drugs were destined for Asia, Europe and other parts of Africa.
A transnational crime detective at Interpol said only 11 per cent of the seized drugs was destined for Uganda but the rest were using Entebbe Airport as a transit route.
Although Mr Ssekatte could not give details on how many were taken to court or still in police cells, he said some suspects were taken to court and remanded.
“Once we get them, we make them face the law so that others can know Uganda is not a destination for drugs,” he said.
In September 2017, Daily Monitor published a story about a senior detective who was arrested as police queried circumstances under which 87 suspected drug traffickers vanished from custody.