Chinese gang busted in Uganda crime spree
Unlawful possession of illegal wildlife and close to 2,000 sim cards
Thirty-seven Chinese gang nationals have been arrested in Uganda for unlawful possession of illegal wildlife species. Three of them, according to prosecution, were found on March 19, 2020 disassembling several mobile phones and computers for trading purposes without a trading license. The offenses were reportedly committed in Kireka, Kira Municipality in Wakiso district.
A day later during a search at their premises, the same group was found with suspected stolen property, which included computer motherboards, phones, and electricity meters.
They were also in possession of 1,895 Airtel and 223 MTN sim cards which they were using in scam financial transactions and protected wildlife species including 6 tortoises and pangolin scales.
Pangolins are believed to be the world’s most trafficked mammal, accounting for as much as 20% of all illegal wildlife trade listed on the IUCN Red List of threatened species as critically endangered.
The men confessed to the charge of abetting the crimes, and the women pleaded not guilty to the same. On this, the 3 prime suspects – Lin Shao Sheng, You Jin Dao, and Lijia Zhao – have been convicted on the charges of being in possession of suspected stolen property. They will be sentenced on March 31.
On the third file which contains charges of illegal possession of wildlife species, the accused persons were directed to return to court on April 9, because it is only the Chief Magistrate who has the powers to try them.
However, authorities were in a dilemma as to where the Chinese should be remanded. The court spent several minutes seeking guidance on the arrested being remanded without being segregated or suffering stigma arising out of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which originated from Wuhan, China.
They were later sent to the newly-constructed Kitalya government prison west of the capital of Kampala along Mityana road. See video here of the arrest: