Counterfeit goods worth over Rwf76 million seized from traders

On 27 September 2022 at 07:56

The countrywide operations code named ’Usalama VIII-2022’ have seized assorted counterfeit and smuggled goods valued in excess of Rwf76 million.

Usalama, which means ’safety’ in Swahili, is an Interpol supported operation conducted simultaneously in all Eastern and Southern Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization (EAPCCO and SARPCCO) member states against harmful and high impact crimes.

The five-day operation, which started on September 19, was conducted jointly by Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), Rwanda National Police (RNP), National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), Rwanda Food and Drug Authority (RFDA), Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Local Government, Rwanda Standards Board (RSB), Rwanda Energy Group (REG), Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB) and the Private Sector Federation (PSF).

It targeted mainly transnational and organized crimes such as drug trafficking, trafficking in persons, stolen motor vehicles, theft of copper wires; smuggled, counterfeit products Illicit brews, forged documents, banned non-biodegradable polythene bags and illegal mining.

Peter Karake, the Director General for Intelligence and Counter-terrorism at RIB, said that the harmful products seized include illicit drugs, expired and illicit foods and beverages, substandard electrical and smuggled or stolen cables, second-hand clothes and shoes, skin bleaching lotions, polythene bags, forged documents and other counterfeit and products.

He added that 25 people were arrested in the process, including three connected to one case of trafficking in persons.

Others arrested include four drug dealers, 11 traffickers and dealers in the outlawed skin bleaching cosmetics, three apprehended over forging documents, three over illegal mining and one person apprehended in connection with motor vehicle theft.

"There is still a health concern of production plants and people producing substandard or illicit foods and beverages. We observed that some factories and illegal plants operate in unhygienic areas, poor storage, and use of harmful ingredients," Karake said.

During the operations, RFDA fined some producers and traders to a tune of over Frw36 million, for flouting the rules and procedures.

RNP spokesperson, Commissioner of Police (CP) John Bosco Kabera warned that this should not be perceived as the end but rather continuous operations.

"This is an indication that there are some people seeking wealth through illegal practices at the expense of other people’s lives," CP Kabera said.

He added that as law enforcement organs in partnership with other relevant institutions, this will not be allowed.

"You will be operating in loses because these harmful products will be seized, but you will also find yourself in prison.

You are only safe from loses and imprisonment if you desist from these unlawful acts and do your businesses the right way," CP Kabera warned.

Dr. Eric Nyirimigabo, the head of Foods and Drugs Inspection and Safety Monitoring department at RFDA also said that they will continue working with relevant entities against substandard foods and beverages, which constitute the majority of the harmful products seized from the market.

"There are laws, rules, procedures and standards that must be followed. We are here to help those who want to go in the right direction but also ready, together with law enforcement organs, to deal with those who want to prosper at the expense of lives of other people," Dr. Nyirimigabo.