The suspects were all arrested in Kicukiro District in operations conducted by the department of Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crimes.
They include Jean Paul Hategekimana and Jean Claude Munyantore arrested in Gatenga Sector while Valens Tuyisenge and Eric Turatsinze were arrested in Gikondo sector.
Police also seized from the suspects 36 types of bleaching lotions worth about Rwf3 million. They include Diproson, Mediven, White express, G.G and other outlawed lotions and oils.
Addressing the the media, Lazarre Ntirenganya from Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) said the cosmetics contain hydroquinone, which pose health effects to users.
’’These cosmetics were banned because they are harmful to the users. They are among the 1,342 listed cream and oil brands with hydroquinone and mercury, which are prohibited in Rwanda," Ntirenganya said.
The skin bleaching products are labeled illegal under the ministerial order determining the list of cosmetics, whose use is prohibited in Rwanda; the law on organization, functioning, and competence of the Council of Pharmacists; and the law relating to the regulation and inspection of food and pharmaceutical products.
The products contain chemicals such as mercury and hydroquinone, which can cause liver damage, reduce resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, and increase anxiety, according to the World Health Organization.
If it enters the bloodstream it also results into fatal liver and kidney damage, although medics say the most immediate visible side effect is skin scarring.
Health experts confirm that prolonged use of corticosteroid creams and lotions can also decrease levels of collagen in the skin.
Collagen strengthens and supports the skin, and a reduced amount can increase the risk of striae commonly known as stretch marks.
RNP spokesperson, CP John Bosco Kabera said the suspects were arrested as a result of strong partnership between the Police and the general public through information sharing.
He warned that these are part of the continuous Police operations targeting shops and people selling outlawed creams and oils.
Article 266 of the law relating to offences and penalties in general, states that "any person, who produces, sells or prescribes the following prohibited substances: a drug; harmful products; cosmetics or body hygiene substances any other products derived from plants; commits an offence.
Upon conviction, he/she is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than one (1) year and not more than two (2) years and a fine of not less than three million Rwandan francs (Rwf 3,000,000) and not more than five million Rwandan francs (Rwf5,000,000) or only one of these penalties."