Those arrested include Francois Munyaneza, 33, and Jean Mbarushimana Cyumbati, 48, apprehended in Amashya Village, Agahabwa Cell of Kigembe Sector, while the third suspect, Francoise Nyirakamana, 40, was apprehended in Agahehe Village, Higiro Cell in Nyanza Sector.
The Southern Region Police Spokesperson, Superintendent of Police (SP) Theobald Kanamugire, said the group was ambushing smugglers and confiscating their goods, if they failed to give them a certain amount of money.
"Police received information from residents that Munyaneza and Mbarushimana brought six bales of secondhand clothes smuggled from Burundi, which they kept in the houses of one Nyiramasabo Francine and Eliab Rukiriza," SP Kanamugire said.
Nyiramasabo is a mother to Munyaneza while Rukiriza is Francoise Nyirakamana’s husband.
"Police officers recovered five bales of the smuggled clothes from the house of Rukiriza, who managed to escape but his wife Nyirakamana was apprehended. Another bale belonging to Munyaneza was found in his mother’s (Nyiramasabo) house. The prime suspects; Munyaneza and Mbarushimana were also located and arrested," the Spokesperson said.
It is said that Munyaneza and Mbarushimana ambushed a group of casual labourers hired by one only identified as Hakizimana, a resident of Nyaruguru District, to smuggle the bales into Rwanda from Burundi.
Munyaneza and Mbarushimana demanded Rwf400,000 so as to conceal information on Hakizimana’s unlawful business.
"When the smugglers failed to pay the agreed amount of money (Frw400, 000), Munyaneza and Mbarushimana confiscated the bales as leverage until the money is paid. We are also still searching for one Hakizimana, the rightful owner of the bales and all other people connected to this smuggling ring," SP Kanamugire said.
Those arrested were handed over to Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB).
Under the East African Community Management Act, which is also applicable in Rwanda, seized smuggled goods under article 199, are auctioned.
A taxpayer, who commits fraud, is subject to an administrative fine of one hundred percent (100%) of the evaded tax. With exception to that penalty, the Tax Administration refers the case to the Prosecution service if the taxpayer voluntarily evaded such tax. In case of conviction, the taxpayer can be imprisoned for a period between six months and two years.