The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Most Drug Dealers Are Women ? Police

Women make the biggest percentage of drugs dealers, according to Superintendent Emmanuel Ngondo, the director of Anti Narcotics at Rwanda National Police.

This is because they can easily disguise themselves when sneaking drugs into the country, Ngondo says. He says the common concealment method for sneaking in drugs by women is wrapping them around their bodies and wearing big clothes in order to disguise themselves and look innocent.

The most commonly used drugs in Rwanda are Marijuana, Cannabis and Kanyanga.

The 2011 statistics from Police reveal that 263 women were arrested in Rwanda for being in possession of cannabis while 183 were arrested with Kanyanga (illicit local brew), which is also considered a drug.

This year alone, in a period of 8 months, a total of 165 women were apprehended with cannabis while 106 women were arrested with illicit brew.

The other concealment methods used by both men and women are hiding the drugs in jerry cans and in trucks loaded with other goods such as matooke and sacks of cement.

Police notes that these people always have a chain - from producer to trafficker to dealer to supplier and finally to the consumer.

"Rwanda is just a market for drugs but not a supplier," explains Ngondo, revealing that most of these drugs are sneaked into the country mostly from Tanzania and Congo. He says one of the ways used to cut down on demand is by rehabilitating Rwandan youth. Another method is increasing the use of sniffer dogs and random roadside checkpoints to check for drugs, as well as increasing cooperation with regional police.

Speaking to the media recently, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Emmanuel Gasana, said campaigns are being organised in schools intended to curb drug abuse.

"Drug abuse is a big threat right now but we have also intensified our efforts as police and different stakeholders in the fight against the vice. We've identified some of the outlets these people use to sneak drugs into the country and we have sniffer dogs that we use to detect them," he says.

The IGP calls upon the public to play a role through community policing and inform the responsible authorities if they have any information about people dealing in and supplying illicit drugs.

The biggest age group of drug users is between 18 and 35, most of them in schools, according to the head of the Police Anti Narcotics Unit.

Statistics availed by the Police Anti Narcotics Unit show that out of 3,384 people arrested last year over sale and consumption of drugs, 2,566 were aged between 18 and 35, making it 76 per cent. 22.6 per cent of all patients received last year by the psychiatric hospital of Ndera had mental problems caused by drug use. A report published by the Ministry of Youth and ICT early this year established that 52.5 per cent of youth in Rwanda have tasted drugs.

According to The World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 200 million people worldwide abuse drugs at least once a year, of which 25 million are declared addicted. Each year, 2.5 million people die globally from drug abuse-related illnesses.

Article 594 of the new Rwanda Penal Code states that any person who consumes, injects, inhales, anoints him/herself with or makes any other unlawful use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of between one to three years and a fine of between Rwf50,000 to Rwf500,000.

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