The Anti Stock Theft Unit of Police together with the Uganda Police Defence Forces-UPDF in Karamoja have shut down 28 illegal cattle markets which cattle rustlers used to sneak and sell animals after raiding them.
The Commander of the Anti-stock Theft Unit in Karamoja Erias Kasirabo told the press that several cattle rustlers and a few traders were avoiding the gazetted cattle markets and instead operating from illegal markets to evade arrest. The markets have been linked to the spate of raids and increased cattle thefts in the region.
According to Kasirabo, the markets which were located in the bushes across the region away from residential areas were discovered two weeks ago during routine operations to end cattle theft in the region. In the aftermath, he says, the markets were closed and several rustlers and traders were arrested.
Kasirabo says that they have now set up several roadblocks in Teso and Karamoja regions and deployed heavily to inspect the animals that are being transported out of the region. The Anti-stock Theft Unit is directly charged with the responsibility of mitigating cattle thefts and is mostly operating in Karamoja and the neighbouring Districts.
Moses Lopeyok, a resident of Moroto said cattle rustling in the region had turned to be a commercial business where many people were involved including some security personnel. But Dengel Lopua, a cattle trader appealed to security officials to change the mode of their operation where they round up all the animals in the market frustrating their business.
A month ago, the Anti-Stock Theft Unit announced that it was profiling cattle markets to avert commercialized raids in the Karamoja sub-region. At the time, Mt Moroto Regional Police Spokesperson Micheal Longole said that the existence of illegal markets frustrates all efforts to recover stolen animals.
Longole explained that they had profiled 21 cattle markets in the Eastern region detailing their location and day of operation by mid-last month. He added that under the new initiative, ASTU personnel will be deployed in each of the markets to verify the animals brought for sale and regulate the movement of animals within and outside the region.
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