Uganda’s joint security operation has busted a counterfeit dollar racket in Buwagi, Kamuli District, and arrested 22 suspects.
The operation followed security intelligence reports that Buwagi had become a den of robbers where many residents were tortured.
Mr Robert Mutemo, the resident district commissioner (RDC), while parading the suspects at Kamuli Central Police Station at the weekend, described the group as “a highly organised gang cell known as Buwagi Republic, with associates, coordinators and marketers.”
He added that the group has grown into an election mafia, adding that at the height of their operations, they robbed an Iganga-based businessman of Shs30m in a fake dollar deal.
Mr Ahmed Madiri, the Kamuli District Police Commander (DPC), who commanded the operation, said the gang is positioned at a vantage point atop a hill where it watches over any oncoming team to arrest its members and also has informers including Local Council leaders, making it difficult to penetrate.
The group’s modus operandi, according to Mr Madiri, is that they lure unsuspecting clients while deceiving them that they have land and sugarcane for sale.
“We have been monitoring the gang’s operations and want their leader, a one Sowedi. We call upon people to work for a living not quick riches,” Mr Madiri advised.
“During our operation, we recovered fake dollars, netted 22 suspects, whom we are screening before committing others to court on charges of obtaining money by false pretence, uttering false documents and dealing in counterfeits,” he added.
Records obtained from Kamuli Central Police Station indicate that between 2019 and 2020, at least 467 cases of obtaining money by false pretence and 20 counterfeit cases were recorded.
Mr Erias Mugaya, 46, a resident of Kamuli Municipality, who fell victim to the gang, said someone lured him into the deal and when he came to check on the money at Buwagi, he was given a $20 bill which was okay.
“After returning, I was added a $50 bundle which, after cross-checking at Centenary Bank and was satisfied, gave out Shs8m in exchange. However, after giving me the dollars, they took off as soon as I started counting,” he narrated at Kamuli Police Station.
“They took off and as I pursued them, their colleagues beat me up, and when I reported the matter to the area LCs, they ignored me, saying I was conned,” Mr Mugaya added.
Mr Majid Kawugu, an LC official, said they had held a security meeting and given police names of whoever deals in fake currency but none of the suspects was arrested.
“It is ironical that after availing security with the people dealing in counterfeit, they came and let the real suspects go and later arrested whoever was around as a cover up,” he added.