They were arrested on Friday, March 5, in operations conducted in Kimisagara and Rwezamenyo sectors by the Anti-Smuggling and Revenue Protection units.
The joint operation targeted "renowned smugglers" after a tip-off from residents.
According to RNP spokesperson, Commissioner of Police (CP) John Bosco Kabera, two of the suspects, namely; Eduard Niyondamya, 36, and Console Uwanyirigira, 32, were arrested at Kimisagara market with eight bales of smuggled second-hands.
Two others; Yassin Nshimiyimana, 29, and Emmanuel Sikubwabo, 41, were arrested later in Rwezamenyo with 12 bales.
The last bunch of 12 smuggled bales were recovered from the house of Nshimiyimana.
“Suspected smugglers were arrested in separate hours after a resident alerted the police about the coordinated fraud,” CP Kabera said.
He added: "Police officers attached to the Anti-smuggling and Revenue protection units worked together and first apprehended Niyondamya and Uwanyirigira, who were found unloading eight bales of Caguwa from the car at the Kimisagara market."
Later on, CP Kabera said, officers attached to the Anti-Smuggling unit intercepted recovered other 12 bales from Nshimiyimana’s house in Rwezamenyo Sector, where he was also arrested alongside Sikubwabo.
Meanwhile, efforts by Sikubwabo to bribe the Police officers to bail their way out hit a dead end as he will also face the same attempted crime of bribery, according to the spokesperson.
Law enforcement organs are also still searching for the suspected ringleader of the group identified as Enock Kayiranga, who managed to flee during the operation.
CP Kabera warned the business community against all sorts of unlawful acts including smuggling and tax evasion.
He warned that Police is now aware of the tricks and means used by smugglers and thanked members of the public, who facilitated such successful operations against fraud.
“Most smuggled second-hand clothes come from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Local smugglers establish contacts in the neighboring country, their partners send the products through Lake Kivu and other porous borders in Rubavu and Rusizi districts.The suspects usually ferry their smuggled goods to Kigali in sacks of fruits to dodge taxes,” CP Kabera disclosed.
Seized goods and the suspected smugglers were handed over to RPU for further management.
A taxpayer, who commits fraud, is subject to an administrative fine of one hundred percent (100%) of the evaded tax. With exception to that penalty, the Tax Administration refers the case to the Prosecution service if the taxpayer voluntarily evaded such tax. In case of conviction, the taxpayer can be imprisoned for a period between six months and two years.
Under the East African Community Management Act, which is also applicable in Rwanda, seized smuggled goods under article 199, are auctioned.