The jail term is the harshest so far as the country starts implementing a new law to fight drug trafficking in the country and also using it as a transit by drug traffickers.
Susan Okeny, Entebbe Grade One Magistrate on Monday sentenced 24-year-old Rodriguez Fagundez Albelys Doralys to 11 years for unlawful possession of 1.7 kilograms of cocaine and another 11 years for trafficking illicit drugs. Doralys will serve the jail term concurrently.
Okeny said Fagundez who was also fined about 10 million shillings (2,700 U.S. dollars) should be deported upon completion of her jail term.
Patrick Onyango, Uganda’s deputy police spokesperson, told Xinhua in an interview that the ruling is a signal to traffickers that they can no longer use Uganda as a transit center or a destination for illicit drugs. The country is seen as a transit point for drug traffickers from South America and Southeast Asia.
“The new law has begun to bite and we hope it will break their (drug traffickers) back and thereby they will stop using Entebbe as a transit and Kampala as destination for their drugs,” said Onyango.
Fagundez was arrested in June this year at Entebbe International Airport with 114 pellets of narcotics drugs. She was charged with unlawful possession of narcotic drugs contrary to the new law, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act 2016, which sets a maximum fine of 10 million shillings (2,700 dollars) and imprisonment for life.
Activists argued before the passing of the new law that the old one was too lenient to drug traffickers, which encouraged them to use Uganda as a transit or destination for illicit drugs.
Since then aviation police has tightened the checks at the airport and some errant security officers have been charged for letting suspects free without court trail.
According to the 2017 annual crime and traffic road safety report, at least some 2,854 cases of narcotic drugs were reported in 2017 compared to 2,851 in 2016. A total of 634.5 kilograms of narcotics drugs that included cocaine, heroin, Methamphetamine and Cathaedulis were seized at Entebbe.
The report released in June this year, revealed that a total of 50 suspected drug traffickers – 38 males and 12 females were arrested and charged, a majority of them from the East African states and foreign nationals.
The figures showed that only 16 of the 50 drug traffickers were convicted and sentenced in 2017.