Police have busted a drugs racket and arrested a key suspect, who has allegedly been using unsuspecting victims as couriers to convey narcotics from one country to another.
Mr Idrissa Traore, 52, owner of Bamako Arcade in Namasuba on Entebbe Road, was arrested following a tip-off from the Director of Criminal Investigations in Burundi after a Mali national was arrested there with seven kilogrammes of narcotic drugs on February 7, 2018.
Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesman Luke Owoyesigire, yesterday said the Burundi suspect Musa Fofana told detectives in Bujumbura that he had received the drugs from Traore at Bamako Arcade in Namasuba, a Kampala suburb.
Police said the drugs were worth about Shs1.5 billion.
“The following day our police officers carried out a search in Traore’s residence in Bbunga in Kabalagala and his office in Namasuba. At his office, we recovered 36 pellets of suspected narcotic drugs, a travel bag with two packages containing suspected narcotics that had been concealed inside,” Mr Owoyesigire said at Entebbe Airport.
Mr Traore denied the allegations.
Pellets containing narcotics are often swallowed by drug couriers to evade detection in the scanners at the airport.
They then later excrete them after reaching their destination. The excreted pellets are cleaned, unwrapped and the narcotic drugs retrieved.
Mr Traore has been in Uganda for more than 20 years.
Police said they also confiscated Mr Traore’s mobile phones and laptops, which revealed he had been communicating with the suspect in Burundi on drug deliveries.
Mr Owoyesigire said Mr Traore was being held on charges of possession of narcotic drugs contrary to provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act 2015.
According to the law, “a person who traffics in a narcotic drug of psychotropic substance commits an offence and is liable to a fine not less than five hundred currency points or three times the market value of that drug or psychotropic substance whichever is greater, and, in addition, to imprisonment for life.”
Police are investigating whether Traore was involved in previous cases where travellers to Mali capital Bamako have been arrested with drugs concealed in luggage at Entebbe Airport.
In November 2017, a Rwandan national was arrested at Entebbe Airport with narcotic drugs worth Shs200m.
The suspect, Ms Beatrice Esaro, claimed she had been given the bag by a Malian friend to deliver it to relatives in Bamako.
A Congolese national, Haruna Colley, who came to rescue her, was also arrested.
Mr Owoyesigire said many suspects in drug trafficking claim they were duped by drug barons.
Pellets containing narcotics are often swallowed by drug couriers to evade detection in the scanners at the airport. They then later excrete them after reaching their destination. The excreted pellets are cleaned, unwrapped and the narcotic drugs retrieved.