Police forces from seven regional countries are meeting in Kigali in a three-day session to lay joint strategies to fight illicit and smuggled products.
The Interpol exercise codenamed ‘Operation Wipeout,” will be conducted in Rwanda, Botswana, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia and Zambia.
It will target excisable goods such as cigarettes, fuel and alcohol. Others include food and home-care products, pesticides, mobile phone and accessories, electrical products 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 danger to consumers and the economy of states.
He said criminals care less about the consequences of selling counterfeit products and urged participants to lay stringent measures to identify and combat such illegal businesses.
He reiterated the need for cooperation between security agencies and other institutions to enhance exchange of information to effectively combat such illegal businesses.
Mr. Roberto Marquez, the head of the Interpol’s trafficking in illicit goods and counterfeiting sub-directorate said the operation is intended to combat piracy, tax evasion and counterfeit goods.
Similar trainings and operations were also conducted in other regional groupings since 2008.
Marquez called upon “meaningful intervention” of law enforcement agencies to facilitate in a fight against counterfeit products and smuggling.
CSP Jean Nepo Mbonyumuvunyi, the director of Interpol in 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 such as toothpaste, hair-dying products (kanta) and counterfeit currencies, which are said to be on the market.
The operation will be conducted with other regulatory bodies like customs, bureau of standards, tax bodies and the justice sector.