Three perspectives dominate the debate on the tension among formal, informal, non or counter-formal trade across territorial borders. Some explain the discrepancy between formal regulations and informal trade as a sign of resistance against state capture. Seen like this, contraband trade assumes the aura of a silent rebellion against the state. Others observe how apparent gaps in state capacity generate opportunities for creative entrepreneurship in the margins. A third perspective emphasises the ever-shifting boundary between formality and informality as a result of immanent geographic scales of interaction: rather than reflecting the habitus of the dispossessed or the attempts to beat a failing state system, smuggling operations provide important linkages in the margins of global capitalist supply chains. At stake here are not only the infrastructures that smoothe operations across borders but also the open question what factors set the terms of their regulation; in other words, who decides how which rules apply and for what (ideological and practical) reasons. Building on this latter perspective, I propose to focus on the politics of informal trade; rather than assuming contraband as a given, we need to understand how the boundary between what are a posteriori referred to as formal, informal and non-formal transactions is upheld and maintained through constantly shifting relational geographies. This analysis invites readers to pay attention to what participants in cross-border smuggling networks consider licit and legitimate and what they do not. It also considers the way smuggling is involved actively in the production of space. The focus of my chapter will be the African Great Lakes region and its rich history of transboundary networks of trade on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.