Rwanda National Police (RNP) and Tanzania Police Force (TPF) conducted a joint operation along River Kagera on Tuesday in a bid to fight cross-border crime, especially trafficking of illicit drugs mainly committed through the waters and porous borders.
The joint operation, which was facilitated by the RNP marine unit, also aimed at assessing the status on both sides of the river.
The exercise was part of the implementation of some the measures agreed upon by the two forces following the signing of the cross-border cooperation agreement in 2012.
During their joint security review meeting held in March last year, the two institutions partly committed to conduct joint operations to dismantle cannabis plantations, as well as fight drug traffickers and smugglers, among others. The operations were launched in December when RNP provided boats to facilitate operations on River Kagera.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Reverien Rugwizangonga, the commanding officer of the RNP marine unit, who led the Tuesday joint operation, said that, “all porous borders have been identified, closed and are being monitored.”
“The operation assessed the current situation on both sides, focusing on cross-border crimes, mainly cannabis plantation farms and drug dealers, that, in most cases, use River Kagera, especially where there are people living in the gazetted boundaries of the river,” said ACP Rugwizangoga.
“This time we found no cannabis plantations, most routes used by drug traffickers have been blocked and families that were residing in the boundaries of the river have since relocated to safe places,” he added.
ACP Rugwizangoga, however, noted that similar operations will continue from time to time to break up some rings of drug traffickers that would still want to use the same channels.
The joint activity is viewed as a crucial step toward breaking up chains of cannabis suppliers in the country that have been using River Kagera to sneak the narcotics into the country through Kirehe, Ngoma and Rwamagana routes, especially at night.