Uganda Wildlife Crime Unit’s Bold Ivory Seizure in Operation Delray

On Monday, July 1st, 2024, the Uganda Wildlife Crime Unit (UWCU), in collaboration with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and Uganda Police Force (UPF), executed a high-risk, multi-agency operation known as Operation Delray. This operation led to the arrest of two suspects involved in the illegal trade of 30.65 kilograms of elephant ivory.

Acting on intelligence developed over several days, UWCU operatives, posing as potential buyers, engaged with two suspects in Kampala. The traffickers, who appeared cautious and were believed to be members of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF). The operatives managed the situation with contingency measures to ensure their safety.

The operatives were taken to a hotel near a major UPDF barracks, where the ivory was verified and weighed after nearly two hours. While traveling to the agreed location for the money exchange, the traffickers suddenly stopped at a petrol station and insisted on completing the transaction there. The UWCU operative quickly called in the arresting officers, and the location was surrounded by a support team. One suspect was arrested on the spot, while the other attempted to escape by scaling a barbed wire fence and jumping onto a nearby roof. He was eventually detained by the arrest team, assisted by brave members of the public.

The suspects and the ivory were transported to a local police station. During the crime scene examination, a Jericho SLP pistol and a magazine containing 14 rounds was recovered. The suspects were confirmed as UPDF soldiers attached to the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force (JAT). One 9mm round was initially missing from the recovered magazine but was later found during a thorough search.

The ivory, consisting of four pieces, was examined by a UWA expert, who concluded it likely came from the same elephant. The suspects remain in custody at a Kampala police station, with one already pleading guilty as the main offender.

Operation Delray underscores the UWCU’s ability to react decisively to intelligence and conduct successful, challenging, and safe operations in collaboration with partner law enforcement agencies.

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