Ugandan authorities are seeking to arrest more 18 Vietnamese nationals over allegations of smuggling ivory and pangolin scales worth $8m (about Sh29 billion) across the country’s borders.
Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) on Friday shared photographs of the suspects saying all the 18 Vietnamese are on the run and wanted in connection to an ongoing case of smuggling and possession of prohibited goods (ivory and pangolin Scales) concealed in Timber Contrary to sections 200 and 202 of the East African Community Customs Management Act 2004 (As mended).
URA identified the suspects as Thai Xuan Phuong, Dinh Van Quan alias Tony, Din Van Chung,
Vo Quoc Trinh, Thai Xuan Tuan alias UNK, Do Trong Ha alias Hoang Ha, Tran Van Cao alias UNK and Vu Van Huan alias Jimmy.
Others are Trinh Trung Dung alias UNK, Le Viet Quyen alias UNK, Ha Chan Chinh, Le Dinh Quan, Nguyen Van Linh, Nguyen Van Thanh, Pham Trong Phuc, Nguyen Van Pha, Nguyen Van Viet, Hoang Van Hau.
This comes just days after two Vietnamese nationals were arrested on charges of wildlife trafficking.
Dhan Yon Chiew and Nguyen Son Dong were detained after customs officials of the URA seized a contraband shipment of ivory and pangolin scales, the largest the country has ever uncovered.
Uganda Wildlife Authority on Wednesday said the two were arraigned in court and charged before they were remanded to Luzira prison in Kampala.
The contraband is believed to have originated from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo and passed through South Sudan before entering Uganda.
“We have been internationally labelled a conduit for illegal trafficking of wildlife and wildlife products, ruining our reputation on the world stage. We shall use this case to show our resolve to stamp out this illegal trade,” said UWA’s executive director Sam Mwandha.
“While URA handles the case in regard to possession of prohibited products, we will handle it from a different angle,” he added.
The authority plans to carry out DNA analysis to establish the source of ivory as part of its anti-poaching efforts.