Rwanda: Khat Trafficker Arrested in Rulindo

Police in Rulindo District arrested a 20-year-old man on Sunday in connection with trafficking Khat.

Commonly known as mirungi or miraa, khat is a leafy substance that contains a stimulant drug. It is classified as a narcotic drug in Rwanda.

According to Chief Inspector of Police Alex Rugigana, the suspected trafficker was intercepted at a "targeted snap-check" mounted in Ntarabana Sector along Gatuna-Kigali highway.

"Police in Gicumbi and Rulindo districts were put on alert about a suspicious passenger that had boarded a public bus from Gatuna border post to Kigali. The passenger in question had an abnormal size and the informer suspected that he could be a drug trafficker with narcotics wrapped around his body," Rugigana explained.

He added that: "A snap-check was mounted in Ntarabana Sector, where the bus was stopped at about 4:30 pm, the person in question was identified, checked and officers found 150 rolls of mirungi wrapped around his waist. He was immediately taken into custody and handed over to Rwanda Investigation Bureau in Ntarabana."

Khat is a drug composed of leaves of a wild plant and considered harmful to users. The World Health Organisation (WHO) classified khat in 1980 as a narcotic drug that can produce psychological dependence.

Medical experts say the use of khat causes many side effects, including mood changes, excessive talkativeness, hyperactivity, aggressiveness, anxiety, elevated blood pressure, manic behaviour, paranoia, and psychoses.

Insomnia or having trouble to sleep, loss of energy (malaise) and lack of concentration usually follow.

It contains two mild stimulants; cathinone and cathine, and is associated with increased risk for a variety of medical complications, including dental disease and mouth cancers, heart problems, liver disease, sleep problems and reduced appetite.

Under article 263 of the new penal code, anyone convicted of producing, transforming, transporting, storing, giving to another or selling narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances faces a penalty of between seven years and life in prison and a fine of up to Rwf30 million.

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