Six airport workers arrested over smuggling Shs3b ivory
Posted Wednesday, February 27 2013 at 02:00
Crime. Police suspects that there could be a wider racket involved since there are many authorities that inspect goods at the airport.
Police at Entebbe International Airport on Monday arrested six workers of Entebbe Handling Services Limited (ENHAS) for allegedly smuggling 422 kilogrammes of ivory worth Shs3.1 billion to Malaysia.
The booty intercepted at Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur was sneaked out of Uganda last week.
“Security got information that five containers of ivory were loaded on a plane and came to intercept it but the plane was already on the taxi way ready to be air bound,” a source at the airport said.
Entebbe police investigations boss Tinka Zarugaba said they contacted the Malaysian police who aided them to impound the haul.
Mr Zarugaba said they first arrested the group present on duty that day because the company provides a range of ground handling services to regional and international airlines.
“We are still carrying out investigations because the racket could have been bigger taking on Aviation Security (AVSEC), Uganda police and customs among other people who inspect airport baggage,” he said.
Police declined to name the suspected owner of the booty, saying he could escape and jeopardise investigations.
Trade in ivory is prohibited in the East African region under the East African Community Customs Management Act 2005.
Elephants are an endangered species according to Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species.
A kilogramme of ivory costs $2,900 (about Shs7.2 million) In June 2011, the Uganda Revenue Authority staff seized 35 pieces of ivory worth $5,000 at Entebbe airport.
The ivory was packed in five metallic boxes destined for Malaysia to a yet-to-be identified trader and had been labelled as personal effects.