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There was a reduction in the amount of drugs trafficked through
Entebbe International Airport and porous border points during the covid-19
lockdown. This is according to Interpol and the anti-narcotics police
The narcotics department and Interpol recorded 1,714 cases in 2020 compared to 2,750 cases in 2019.
Entebbe Airport which is known to be a transit route for drug traffickers in 2020 seized 41.9 kilograms valued at over 1.7
billion shillings and in 2019 132 kilograms worth 4.5 billion shillings were
Police attribute the low numbers of smuggled drugs to travel restrictions following
the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic. In March last year, President Museveni
suspended all incoming and outgoing passenger flights to Uganda in a bid to combat
the spread of COVID-19. However, emergency and cargo flights were exempted.
At the borders, security was also heightened purposely to prevent
people from sneaking into the country. Even the few kilograms of heroin, opium
and methamphetamine confiscated at the airport were trafficked before countries
imposed travel bans in January, February and early March.
“The decrease was attributed to the total lockdown of the country
from March to June 2020 to curb the spread of Covid-19 meaning few people were
travelling through the airport and reducing the opportunity for transiting
drugs through Uganda,” CID director Grace Akullo said.
The Interpol Director Charles Birungi says they have noticed that drug
smugglers are very creative and keep coming up with new tricks. To keep
security personnel at Airport and borders alert, Birungi says they have been
conducting regular training.
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Although drugs trafficked into the country reduced, several people especially the
youth who were idle during lockdown tried trading in local drugs such as
cannabis. Security responded by arresting 2,391 people of which 2,308 were male
adults, 45 were female adults and 38 juveniles.
Police explain that due to enforcement of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic
Substance Act, the traffickers have realized that Entebbe International Airport
is a risky route to use.
Drug traffickers are now using new routes for
smuggling narcotics like the use of Lake Victoria mainly Port Bell, the South
Sudan route and import containers.
Birungi explains that strategies to control trafficking Narcotics at Entebbe
International Airport includes random checks on passengers, bags, documents and
suspected vehicles picking and dropping passengers and installed X-ray machines
used to scan passenger’s bags that are supporting in arresting drug
Joseph Kato is currently a Master's candidate at Makerere University. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communication from Kampala International University, a Diploma in Journalism and he's also a graduate in Guidance and Counseling.