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How URA Is Using Innovative Ways To Arrest Unrelenting ‘Smart’ Smugglers

A passenger who was intercepted after an officer observed a lady with oddly shaped behind only to find it stacked with smuggled phones.

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) enforcement team at Entebbe International Airport has struck again, intercepting 781 phones in “Operation Desert Storm”

“…A desert storm starts as a whisper, then, when least expected, a dark, rolling wall of sand appears, moving swiftly and engulfing everything in its path…”

Such has been the case these past two weeks. Travelers have learned that even as Entebbe enforcement enters the final lap of the Financial Year, their resolve remains unchanged.

While the economic saboteurs thought that Enforcement had exhausted all the tools in the toolbox, they soon discovered that the teams had a secret compartment filled with “secret weapons”.

Apart from the usual concealment methods, officers came to appreciate that observation is key; knowing what is normal and what is augmented goes a long way.

URA says, in the line of duty, you have to question everything and everyone.

“A case in point—An Officer conducting a spot check on a cleaner’s bucket, which he had claimed contained cleaning detergents, was shocked to find 64 pieces of assorted used Samsung phones instead,” URA said via its X (formerly Twitter) handle.

A cleaner’s bucket that contained smuggled phones

The tax body added: “In another instance, an officer noticed a passenger walking majestically with what seemed to be an oddly shaped behind—the “nyash” was not “nyashing.”  Physical check revealed 16pcs of assorted phones.”

As the Enforcement Officer sat down for a breather after a long day of clearing passengers, she saw a small group coming through, scanning their bags. One of them—a familiar face—appeared to be wearing more clothes than usual on such a hot day.

The officer noticed his unusual clothing and behavior, leading to a search due to his visible discomfort and perspiration.

A search revealed a pair of custom-made trousers fitted with pockets, and it was in these pockets that the passenger had ingeniously hidden 20 pieces of assorted iPhones and Samsung phones.

A passenger with a pair of custom-made trousers fitted with with pockets that contained smuggled phones

Another man threw all caution to the wind and stuffed phones in the front of his trousers, a sight that could have made for a good FACO advert.

“But our officers were not fazed. 18 pieces of assorted iPhones were recovered when he was searched,” URA says, adding: “In total, 781 pieces of smartphones were seized; offense management is underway.”

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