Uganda Revenue Authority seizes 750 pieces of ivory being smuggled from South Sudan
Three containers from South Sudan with 750 pieces of ivory (meaning about 325 elephants were killed) have been intercepted in Uganda.
Uganda’s Revenue Authority said it has arrested two Vietnamese nationals on smuggling charges after intercepting two shipping containers that came in via South Sudan.
Dhan Yan Chiew and Nguyen Son Dong we’re transferring the containers with 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolins scales disguised as timber logs.
URA said “mobile Non-Intrusive Inspection scanner confirmed something unusual tucked away in a trio of 20 ft containers which crossed from South Sudan into Uganda carrying logs of timber. Timber was the declared item in transit but the scanner seemed to disagree.”
“Basing on intel gathered about suspicious cargo in the containers, the customs team covertly tailed the 3 vehicles as they snaked their way accross Uganda. The team then moved in on the cars at an ICD to verify the suspicions,” URA added.
URA added that they “found hundreds of ivory pieces [and] thousands of pangolin scales disguised as timber.”
Ivory and pangolin scales are listed among prohibited trade items. URA immediately impounded the three containers and arrested the two Vietnamese suspects.
The smuggle nearly got away with their loot. “With a master carpenter in on the plan, the racket masterminded an operation that claimed lives of many elephants and pangolins across Africa. A collection centre suspected to be in DR Congo is where the racket packed the ivory and scales into well joined logs of wood,” URA said.
“The racket poured molten wax into hollow plunks of wood and deeped hundreds of ivory and pangolin scales into the wax. They covered the hollow plunks with well shaped pieces of wood (lids). They used saw dust to cover lines where lids joined the hollow plunks. The vehicles containing the contraband & the suspects were taken to the URA HQs for offence management. Hammers came out to unbox the “logs of wood” revealing bricks of wax.”
“The wax has been molten again to extract the ivory and scales. Verification is underway,” the statement read.
“By press time, 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales had been verified.The process is still underway. For 750 pieces of ivory to be amassed , 325 elephants have to lose their lives. Thousands of Pangolins too. This is the cost of poaching on Africa's wild life,” URA revealed.