Police have arrested at least eleven people including four women, suspected to be part of separate drug trafficking rings. The separate operations were conducted in the night of Wednesday.
Five of the suspects, who belong to the same ring, were arrested in the evening of Wednesday in Mukingo Sector of Nyanza District with 60kgs of cannabis.
Police spokesperson for the Southern Province, Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Bonaventure Karekezi, said that based on “credible information from residents,” the Police Anti-Narcotics Unit (ANU) raided the home of “one supplier” identified as Ruth Mushimiyimana, 22, located in Kinyogoto Village, Gatagara Cell in Mukingo.
“At Mushimiyimana’s home, ANU also found other four people identified as Alphonse Ndatimana, 24, Vilginie Kamariza, 46, Faustin Rwabukundi, 62, and Esdras Ntiruswamaboko, 28, all believed to have been her retailers,” CIP Karekezi said.
In a related operation by ANU also conducted in Ruhango District, the unit arrested other three suppliers in Ruhango Sector, Gikoma Cell in Wimana Village.
CIP Karekezi said the three suspects were found with combined 3155 pellets of cannabis.
“All the eight suspects arrested in Nyanza and Ruhango were known cannabis suppliers and operations targeted their homes where indeed the narcotics were recovered,” the spokesperson said.
Elsewhere, two other cannabis suppliers were intercepted in Rubavu District.
CIP Innocent Gasasira, the Police spokesperson for the Western region, said that one of the suspects identified as Ildephonse Irafasha, 26, with 3000 pellets of cannabis.
“Irafasha was at the time traveling in a Nil Safari (travel agency) headed to Kigali from Rubavu. It was stopped at a check-point in Kanzenze Sector, Kirerema Cell in Bisesero Village, and the pellets were concealed in his luggage,” CIP Gasasira said.
“Another suspected drug supplier identified as Liliane Murushabandi, 35, was also arrested on Thursday at about 4am with 8.5kgs of cannabis. She was also traveling in Kigali coach that was headed to Kigali from Rubavu,” CIP Gasasira said.
According to Gasasira, Police had received information from one of the suspects already in custody on drug dealers in transit from Democratic Republic of Congo with quantities of cannabis.
“A snap-check was mounted in Mahoko Sector, Kanama Cell in Mahoko Village in wee hours of Thursday morning searching all vehicles from Rubavu. Police officers found one luggage in the vehicle corridor, in which narcotics were concealed, which the unknown owner at the time placed there to prevent arrest,” CIP Gasasira explained.
He added: “However, during the process one passenger secretly informed the officers of the rightful owner of the luggage, that’s how Murushabandi was identified and arrested,”
“Indeed when she arrived at Kanama police station, where she’s currently detained, other suspects detained there over drug related crimes also identified Murushabandi as their supplier. They said she uses varied tricks including wrapping the narcotics around her body sometime guising as an expecting mother or carrying a baby.”
According to the Rwanda National Police (RNP), the “strengthened operations” are specifically designed to break supply chains.
The government has since extended the sentence for suppliers from seven years to life in prison, as specified in the new penal code, as part of the efforts to address the problem that mainly affects the young people as majority addicts.
The measures against the vice also include mass rehabilitation of addicts with the government investing in establishment and expansion of rehabilitation centres as well as mass awareness campaign to prevent new users.