Rwanda police on Thursday paraded two men suspected to be part of a 14-man cartel that trafficked about 360kg of cannabis into the country, estimated to be worth Rwf30 million.
The suspects where paraded before residents of Gahara and Mutenderi sectors of Kirehe and Ngoma districts, respectively.
The area is said to be the major transit route for drugs traffickers from the neighbouring countries.
In an operation conducted on September 13, Police intercepted the drug traffickers carrying 12 sacks on cannabis.
Two of the 14-man gang were doing front and back surveillance along the route while the other 12 were carrying a sack each and moving in pairs, according to Police.
As the police advanced, the traffickers dumped all the sacks they were carrying and fled, but two of them, Eric Nduwimana and Jean Baptiste, were caught during the process.
While addressing the residents at a site where the suspects were paraded, the Eastern Region Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Dismas Rutaganira, detailed the dangers of drugs and appealed to residents come out against traffickers.
He also told residents that police are searching for other 12 suspects still at large.
He said that the dangers of cannabis eventually affects everyone, directly or indirectly, and urged them not to hide any keep quiet about anyone they suspect to be involved in such criminal acts.
Apparently, one kilogram of cannabis can make 400 rolls. This means 360kg can make 144,000 rolls.
If one roll can be shared by two people, this implies that the seized drugs could affect about 288,000 people.
“Rwanda’s resources is its people, that why RNP will stop at nothing in fighting whoever and whatever that may affect the wellbeing of the Rwandan people,” ACP Rutaganira said.
“We appeal to you to lead this fight against drugs. I assure you, with your full support and cooperation, we will win this fight and protect the Rwandan youth, the majority affected,” he said.
The RPC told residents that the government spends billions in rehabilitating those that are addicted and taking care of those in custody, who are arrested over drug trafficking and consumption.
“If these billions were to be channelled to the development of Gahara and Mutenderi sectors, what you can achieve in a short time would be overwhelming. Unfortunately, the money is spent on taking care of people in rehabs and prisons. You have the power to change this by reporting anyone you suspect and we eventually channel the money to the development of our communities,” said ACP Rutaganira.
During the meeting, the Executive Secretary of Mutenderi Sector Arcade Muragijemungu said that traffickers use the Akagera wetland to smuggle drugs into Rwanda.
The vast wetland is surrounded by hills which are not resided on hence benefiting traffickers to escape as soon as they see any movement on the uphill.
“Residents know the traffickers and the tricks they use and they are now willing to cooperate in bringing them to justice,” Muragijemungu said.
“Traffickers normally operate at night but with the help of security organs we are going to put “Irondo” in wetland that will be operational at all times,” he added.
The deployment of irondo in the area will be joining the already enhanced police deployments in the wetland.
Police deployments have since identified three major routes used to traffic cannabis from Tanzania.
They include Gikoma route in Musaza sector, Nyamirambo route in Kigarama sector and Rwantonde route in Gatore sector, all in Kirehe District.
In Kirehe and Rwamagana districts alone, since January, Police has seized 50 sacks on cannabis.
One of the residents, Rosine Mukanteretse from Gahara, said: “I’ve learnt that most of those dealing in drugs are youths, meaning I have to teach my children the dangers of drug abuse as means to protect them.”
She added: “Information sharing is the only way we are going to win this war; we have committed to working closely with the police and ensure any one involved in drug trafficking faces the law.”