The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: 1, 600 Arrested for Narcotics, Kanyanga

A total of 1, 663 people, among them 163 females, have been apprehended countrywide over the last six months for narcotics related crimes, a police report on the status of drug abuse, exclusively obtained by The New Times, indicates.

Over 1, 300 of those arrested that include both dealers and consumers are aged between 18 and 35 years while only 57 are below 18 years.

About 1, 699 kilogrammes of cannabis commonly known as marijuana were also seized during the same period and 1,232 people, 102 of whom are females, were arrested, according to the report.

Over 3, 868 litres of illicit brew commonly known as kanyanga were also confiscated at the same period, and 163 suspects arrested.

Last year, 2,553 kilogrammes of cannabis and 8,130 litres of kanyanga were seized and 3,384 suspects taken into custody.

According to the report, Nyagatare District is the major route for kanyanga that is said to be sneaked into the country from Uganda, while cannabis is trafficked through the districts of Rubavu, Rusizi and Kirehe.

Cannabis is said to be trafficked into the country from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.

Most of these drugs are trafficked to Kigali especially Gasabo District, the report indicates.

Supt Emmanuel Ngondo, the Director of anti-narcotics unit at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) said 910 litres of kanyanga and 524 kilogrammes of cannabis were destroyed in Rubavu while another 733 kilogrammes of marijuana are scheduled to be razed in Kirehe District.

According to Ngondo, drugs are destroyed following after courts rulings.

"They [drugs] are exhibits during court proceedings; we only destroy them after the court rules on cases," Ngondo said.

He explained that 1,325 case files involving suspected drug traffickers detained between January and June this year were forwarded to the prosecution.

Drug dealers usually conceal narcotics in vehicle reserve tanks, wrap them around their body or mix them with other commodities in transit vehicles.

They are also suspected to connive with drivers of transit vehicles and importing vehicles into the country.

Dealers also use nicknames and sometimes use illegal borders to sneak drugs in the country.

"Dealers change methods of trafficking drugs, but we have initiated measures, including reducing on the demand and supply of these drugs," he explained.

Among the measures are awareness campaigns, mounting of roadblocks on major routes and use of community policing.

The 2011statistics from the Ndera Psychiatric hospital indicates that 22. 6 percent of all patients suffer from drug misuse.

Article 594 of the new penal code states that "any person, who consumes, injects, inhales, anoints him/herself with or makes any other unlawful use of narcotic drugs, shall be liable to a prison term of one to three years and a fine ranging from Rwf50,000 to Rwf500,000.

But any person, who unlawfully makes, transforms, imports, or sells narcotic drugs within the country, shall be liable to a sentence of three to five years and a fine of Rwf500, 000 to Rwf5, 000, 000, under the same law.

Global trafficking of illegal narcotics is a matter of serious concern worldwide and one of the world's largest illegal market in terms of financial turnover and the number of end users, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2012 report.

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