The violent group that calls itself Abarembetsi was intercepted on Friday, February 5, at about 9pm in Rushaki Sector, Karurama Cell in Nyaruhanga Village as they crossed into Rwanda from Uganda through an illegal border point.
Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Alexis Rugigana, the Police spokesperson for the Northern region, said that the group was at the time carrying kanyanga packed in polythene bags and concealed in five sacks.
"The operation was organised and conducted jointly with Rushaki Police station as a response to increased cases of kanyanga trafficking largely conducted by this group of Abarembetsi, which is normally violent and armed with weapons like machetes and sticks," said CIP Rugigana.
The arrested members of the group hail from Gicumbi and Nyagatare districts, he added.
They include the trio of Jean Bosco Barakagira, Theogene Ntirenganya and Eric Manirafasha; all from Gahengeri Cell in Mukama Sector, Nyagatare District.
The two other members of the racket are Adrien Umuhoza and Esidore Izabarenera from Rushaki and Bwisige sectors, respectively, in Gicumbi District.
"This was a targeted operation based on credible information on each of these individuals and their group, so they were being trailed," CIP Rugigana said.
He added: "Earlier that day, Police received information from residents that the group had crossed to Uganda to bring a new consignment of kanyanga. The Anti-smuggling and organised crimes, and Rushaki Police station worked together to arrest all the five members of the ring as they crossed back into Rwanda carrying five sacks of kanyanga."
All the suspects were isolated at Rushaki Police station where they will be tested for COVID-19 before they are handed over to Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB).
The sacks of kanyanga were also disinfected and stored at the exhibit room at the station.
"These groups of Abarembetsi, in most cases, are hired by big dealers. In this specific case, we have since identified their employers, who had hired these five men to traffic kanyanga from Uganda to a destination in Kaniga Sector in Gicumbi. Law enforcement organs are working together to also arrest this big dealer," CIP Rugigana said.
Kanyanga is classified among the "simple drugs" under the Ministerial Order No.001/MoH/2019 of 04/03/2019 establishing the list of narcotic drugs and their categorisation.
Under article 263 of the law determining offences and penalties in general in Rwanda, anyone convicted for dealing in "simple drugs" faces between seven and ten years in prison and a fine of between Rwf5 million and Frw10 million.