The warning follows an operation conducted by Marine Police in Lake Kivu on
Tuesday July 28, in which three fishermen were arrested in part of the waters in Nkombo Sector, Rusizi District with assorted smuggled goods, including pharmaceutical drugs.
The operation was conducted jointly with Rusizi fishing union.
Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Bonaventure Twizere Karekezi, the Police spokesperson for the Western region, identified the arrested fishermen as Jonathan Niyonkuru, 24, Bernard Ngwabije, 48, and Theoneste Mubirigi, 45.
The smugglers are also members of the fishing union in Rusizi. It is said that they were hired by four smugglers, who managed to flee during the operation, to transport their goods across the waters into Rwanda.
"The targeted operation was based on credible information that some individuals would be smuggling goods into Rwanda from the Democratic Republic of Congo through the lake," CIP Karekezi said.
"In the operation conducted between 6:00 PM and 9:30 PM, the trio was intercepted with 20 tins of medical tablets, second-hand clothes and shoes, food flavours and banned biodegradable plastic bags," he added.
The intercepted pharmaceuticals include paracetamol, Dyprone, Fakpar, Hedon, Albendazole and Diclomex, among others.
"The seized goods were handed over to the Revenue Protection Unit while the suspects have been quarantined first to prevent possible spread of COVID-19, in case they got infected in the process of fraud," the spokesperson explained.
"It is illegal and punishable by law to evade taxes, but it’s very dangerous and life-threatening when you smuggle human drugs, which could be expired or banned on the market due to their ill-effects to human health."
The successful operation came a day after another smuggler identified as Chantal Mukashema was also intercepted in Mururu Sector of Rusizi District with 408 pieces of body Vaseline and 800 pieces of salsa, a food flavour.
Last week, the Revenue Protection Unit arrested ten smugglers in Rubavu District with 23 bales of second-hand clothes, 250kgs of used shoes,
1,434 assorted pieces of banned skin bleaching products, 12 bottles of Red Label, 200 tins of Salsa, five cartons of cigarettes, six cartons of outlawed non-biodegradable polythene bags, and tins of powdered milk.
CIP Karekezi said that these are intensified operations against fraud targeting chains of smugglers including owners of goods, those hired to transport them across the border and owners of houses used as stores.