The traffickers were intercepted in Ryeru Village, Ryeru Cell of Rwempasha Sector after they crossed into Rwanda from Uganda with the products through a porous border.
Other seized goods include 14 litres of banned illicit gin locally known as Kanyanga, food flavours and lotions.
The Police spokesperson for the Eastern region, Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Hamdun Twizeyimana said that a group of about 20 smugglers and traffickers had crossed into Rwanda at about 10pm, through an illegal border point in Ryeru village.
“They were intercepted by the security personnel on patrol and their trafficked goods including bags of plastic bags, lotions, food flavours and jerrycans of illicit gin seized in the process,” said CIP Twizeyimana.
According to the spokesperson, the group of traffickers had earlier been reported by the residents.
“We understand Ryeru is used by drug dealers and smugglers but due to the strong community policing in the area, Police gets information from residents on individuals engaged in criminal activities,” CIP Twizeyimana said.
“In October, three people were arrested in Ryeru, Rwempasha Sector trafficking over 20, 000 pieces of plastic bags. Similar operations conducted in the area in the recent past also arrested scores of drug dealers and smugglers. We thank the local residents, who have stood up against such criminal acts and supporting security operations with credible information.”
He further warned that such criminal dealings can also lead to the spread of the COVID-19 across borders.
In July, Police in Nyagatare town also seized 18, 600 pieces of the non-biodegradable products and arrested the alleged owner. Three other people were arrested in September in Matimba Sector, also in Nyagatare with four sacks of plastic bags.
Article 10 of law N° 17/2019 of 10/08/2019 relating to the prohibition of manufacturing, importation, use and sale of plastic carry bags and single-use plastic items, states that any person, who imports plastic carry bags and single-use plastic items is liable to the dispossession of those plastic carry bags and such items, and to an administrative fine equivalent to ten times the value of those plastic carry bags and single-use plastic items.
In article 11, a wholesaler of plastic carry bags and single use plastic items is liable to an administrative fine of Rwf700, 000 and dispossession of those plastic carry bags and such items.
In article 12 of the same legal instrument, a retailer of plastic carry bags and single-use plastic items is liable to an administrative fine of Rwf300, 000 and dispossession of those plastic carry bags and such items.
On the other hand, kanyanga is listed among simple narcotic drugs under Ministerial Order Nº 001/MoH/2019 of 04/03/2019 establishing the list of narcotic drugs and their categorization.
Article 5 of the Ministerial Order defines simple narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, precursors and unauthorised drinks as alcoholic drinks produced without complying with standards and other laws; chemical substances whose original intended use has been altered, and applied as narcotic drug.
Anyone convicted for simple narcotic drugs under article 263 of the law determining offences and penalties in general, face between seven and ten years in prison and a fine of between Frw5 million and Rwf10 million.