US Senators in landmark visit to INTERPOL Regional Bureau in Argentina
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Four high-ranking US Senators have made a landmark visit to INTERPOL’s Regional Bureau in Buenos Aires to see first-hand the added value to national and regional law enforcement through international police cooperation.
Senator Richard Shelby (R – Alabama), Senator Thad Cochran (R – Mississippi), Senator Susan Collins (R – Maine) and Senator Michael Crapo (R – Idaho) were met by INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble and head of the INTERPOL Regional Bureau Rafael Pena-Hernández at the offices in Argentina, which serve as the world police body’s regional contact point for countries throughout South America.
The Senators, who were accompanied by the US Ambassador to Argentina, Vilma Martinez, the head of the US National Central Bureau in Washington, Shawn Bray and other senior US officials were updated on the world’s largest police organization’s tools and activities which assist US law enforcement to protect the country’s 315 million citizens and 50 million visitors.
With the opening of its Command and Coordination Centre in 2011, Buenos Aires became the first Regional Bureau to have 24/7 police support capacity, operating in tandem with the CCC at the INTERPOL headquarters in Lyon, France, and playing a central role in Operation Infra-SA (International Fugitive Round-Up and Arrest – South America).
Among the operation’s 200 targets from 34 countries were sisters Clara and Caridad Guilarte, wanted by the US for false claims to Medicare worth USD 9.1 million. Captured in Colombia, the pair were extradited to the US and sentenced to 14 years by a Miami court.
Briefing the delegation during their visit on Friday, Secretary General Noble said as the world’s highest user of INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database, the US was setting an example for other countries to follow. More than 220 million checks were carried out by the US in 2012 alone, resulting in some 10,500 people identified as attempting to enter the country on fraudulent passports.
“Although the saying is ‘all politics is local’ this adage can also be applied to policing, and INTERPOL can ensure that vital international policing information gets into the hands of local and national law enforcement when and where it is needed most,” said Secretary General Noble.
“Neither INTERPOL nor its member countries will stop their searches for dangerous criminals wanted for arrest internationally until they are apprehended,” added the INTERPOL Chief, highlighting the case of Joran Van der Sloot.
The 25-year-old Dutchman was arrested in Chile in 2010 after INTERPOL Peru issued an alert that he was wanted in connection with the killing of 21-year-old Stephany Flores Ramirez, a crime Van der Sloot later pled guilty to and was sentenced to 28 years in January 2012.
Van der Sloot also remains the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice, or international wanted persons alert, issued at the request of US authorities for extortion in connection with the disappearance of US teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba in 2005, for whom an INTERPOL Yellow Notice, an international missing persons alert, remains valid.
In March 2011, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) working with Ecuadorean authorities tracked six Pakistani nationals wanted for crimes involving human smuggling and who also had ties to known terrorist groups, to a location in Quito. Following a request by Ecuadorean authorities for Red Notices to be issued for the subjects, INTERPOL Washington and officers at the General Secretariat headquarters ensured their publication within 24 hours, enabling the suspects’ deportation.
Mr Noble also pointed to the recent success of Operation Spartacus, an anti-human trafficking initiative coordinated by the Buenos Aires Regional Bureau. The six-week operation (18 June - 31 July 2012) across Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay and supported by Italy, Spain, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) resulted in the rescue of 365 victims and 197 arrests.