Police officers from seven regional countries are meeting in Kigali in a three-day session aimed at laying strategies to fight illicit products.
The Interpol exercise codenamed ‘Operation Wipeout’, will be conducted in Rwanda, Botswana, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia and Zambia on a date yet to be communicated.
It will target excisable goods such as cigarettes, fuel and alcohol. Others include food and home-care products, pesticides, mobile phone and accessories, and electronics.
The Inspector General of Rwanda National Police, Emmanuel K. Gasana, while officially opening the training of 44 participants from the seven countries, said these sub-standard and smuggled goods pose a danger to consumers and economy.
He said criminals care less about the consequences of selling counterfeit products and urged participants to lay stringent measures to combat such illegal businesses.
He reiterated the need for cooperation between security agencies and other institutions to enhance exchange of information.
Roberto Marquez, the head of Interpol’s trafficking in illicit goods and counterfeiting sub-directorate, said the operation is intended to combat piracy, tax evasion and counterfeit goods.
Marquez called on law enforcement agencies in the region to help fight against counterfeit products and smuggling.
CSP Jean Nepo Mbonyumuvunyi, the director of Interpol at RNP, said the Force had already started operations against such illegal businesses.
The RNP currently has a unit – Revenue Protection Department – attached to Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) to fight fraud and other forms of illegal trade.
CSP Mbonyumuvunyi said this operation will further strengthen the fight against illicit products and counterfeit currencies, which are said to be on the market.
The operation will be conducted with support of bodies like bureau of standards, tax bodies and the Justice Sector.