URA confiscates smuggled cigarettes worth Shs 140m, 4 arrested

URA confiscates smuggled cigarettes worth Shs 140m, 4 arrested
The URA Assistant Commissioner of Public and Corporate Affairs Ibrahim Bbossa.

Wakiso, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | On Friday 26, January 2023 the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) successfully busted a racket of cigarette smugglers in Senge Village, Naluvule Parish, Wakiso District.

In a well-coordinated intelligence-driven operation executed by URA’s Revenue Enforcement officers, four individuals were apprehended with smuggled flavored cigarettes (59 boxes of ORIS Slims cigarettes, 5 boxes of Platinum Seven) valued at Shs 140 million.

The URA enforcement team says they received credible intelligence from informants, indicating the location of the house where the smuggled cigarettes were stored. These illicit goods were awaiting transportation to Kampala City Centre for sale.

“We sealed off the place at around 8:00PM Thursday night and the suspects gave us a bribe of UGX 10 Million to be let free, but we got the money and arrested them too,” explained the URA enforcement team lead.

URA confiscates smuggled cigarettes worth Shs 140m, 4 arrested
The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has busted a racket of cigarette smugglers at Senge Village in Wakiso district.

Mr. Ibrahim Bbossa, the Assistant Commissioner of Public and Corporate Affairs at the Authority, reported that the suspects were taken into custody for possessing several boxes of assorted cigarettes prohibited in the Ugandan market.

Mr. Bbossa explains that the suspects tried to bribe the enforcement officers with Shs10 million but were arrested and are now being detained at Jinja Police Station.

“We are hoping that people can learn from this because the cost of smuggling is expensive. When you look at the East African Community Customs Management Act, if you are caught smuggling, the penalty will range from USD 5000,” Mr. Bbossa said.

URA confiscates smuggled cigarettes worth Shs 140m, 4 arrested
Four individuals are taken into custody for their involvement in smuggling flavored cigarettes worth Shs140 million.

“People who smuggle are greedy and unfair to fair traders who pay tax. But I would like to remind Ugandans that the cost of smuggling is so high since there are hefty fines involved, prosecution and loss of a vehicle used in smuggling to the state,” he added.

Mr. Bbossa emphasized that smugglers, unlike other traders on the Ugandan market, evade taxes, thereby posing a burden on entire industries, such as cigarette manufacturers in this instance.

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“It’s important to highlight that the confiscated cigarettes lacked the mandatory health warning, as stipulated by the law, and were devoid of a digital tax stamp,” Mr. Bbossa underscored that these contraband cigarettes will be destroyed.

He says three vehicles employed for transporting the smuggled goods have also been confiscated. The vehicles include a Toyota Vitz Reg No. UBN 404Y, a Super Custom Reg No. UBA 683G and a Subaru Forester UBK 718X.

URA confiscates smuggled cigarettes worth Shs 140m, 4 arrested
Three vehicles used in the transportation of smuggled cigarettes are confiscated by URA as part of their crackdown on illicit activities.

The URA Spokesperson Mr. Bbossa commended the enforcement officers for their steadfastness in rejecting bribery attempts and upholding the pillar of integrity at URA.

Moses Wanjalo, the URA Manager Customs Enforcement, indicated that URA has bolstered intelligence efforts nationwide to combat smuggling. He advised traders to utilize proper channels when bringing goods into the Ugandan market.