Security officials in Kasese District have destroyed more than 2.5 acres of marijuana plantations in Queen Elizabeth National Park and arrested six suspects.
The officials found the plantations about 20 kilometers from Kanyangeya UWA ranger post in Kasese Town.
Ms. Zelufa Masika, an investigator with UWA at Katunguru post, said they received intelligence information that a group of people had invaded the park and planted marijuana.
“After our intelligence gathered the information, we had to mobilize a team of rangers who surrounded the park and arrested six suspects. The gardens were later handed over to Kasese Central Police Station for further management,” Ms Masika said.
She said the planters had started harvesting and plants had matured up to about five months.
Mr Aron Isingoma, the officer-in-charge of Kanyangeya UWA ranger post, said it took them four days to track the whereabouts of the plantations and the suspects. Mr Vincent Twesige, the Rwenzori east regional police spokesperson, confirmed the arrests. “We currently have six suspects as investigations continue. We must establish the real owners of the gardens in the national park so that they can be dealt with accordingly,” Mr Twesige said.
“We are going to charge them with being in possession of narcotics, operating without licenses and trafficking, among other charges of illegal entry into the national park,” Mr Twesige said.
He added that they had recovered sacks of the marijuana and the plantations had been cut down and burnt.
Police suspect that people who do illegal activities in the park could be armed poachers.
One of the suspects said they sell a basin of the marijuana at Shs100,000 to some businesspeople who take it to Kampala.
In 2013, another garden of marijuana was destroyed in the park.
According to Anti-Narcotic Act of 2015, anyone found in possession of narcotics is sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on conviction, operating without licence is five years while trafficking it [buying and selling] attracts a sentence of life imprisonment.