Crime & Investigation

URA Nets Serial Cigarette Smugglers, Impounds 2 Cars

Uganda revenue authority has impounded 2 Toyota premio cars belonging to Francis Yeko Were who has allegedly been using the vehicles to smuggle Supermatch cigarettes from Kenya.

The two vehicles, both Toyota Premio under registration number UBD 499C and UBB 151X were intercepted on 8th and 9th April 2018 respectively at Kalerwe while heading to a consolidated area in Kisasi.

At the time of the interception, the first car was holding 796 bombas of cigarettes while the second car was loaded with 2,832 bombas.

After some intelligence search, the owner of the two cars was netted in Tororo and brought to Kampala to face charges of carrying uncustomed goods and invading taxes.

According to Vincent Seruma, a spokesman for URA — cigarette smuggling especially Supermatch from Kenya, which is the cheapest — has been on the rise in the last 6 months mainly because of the high tax imposed on them.

According to URA records, cigarettes valued at Shs.1.68billion have been confiscated in different parts of the country like Malaba, Oraba, Jinja, Iganga, Kampala, Fort Portal Busia, Mbale and Busitema. These equate to shs.2.8billion in taxes.

URA officials looking at the cigarettes

“The vice of smuggling cigarettes is on the increase. As URA, we are doing everything possible to make sure it is stopped,” Seruma said.

Apart from being a danger to society, cigarette smuggling is also impacting negatively on the economy first because it creates unhealthy competition for local producers and legit importers but also deprives government of revenue.

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Following his arrest, Yeko and his two drivers will be taken to court to face changes of tax invasion.

In addition, the two cars will be fortified to government while the cigarettes will be destroyed.

“The URA enforcement team has put in place strategies to curb smuggling including Using intelligence to target consolidation, enhancing forfeiture means of smuggling and enhancing prosecution of people involved in the vice,” Seruma said.

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