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27 March 2014

International investigators gather for INTERPOL ‘Pink Panthers’ project meeting

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Police officers from 25 countries are gathered in Luxembourg to share information related to ongoing investigations into ‘Pink Panthers’ linked robberies around the world.

The 8th operational working group meeting on Project Pink Panthers (27 and 28 March) brings together more than 70 investigators to directly exchange details and updates in relation to individuals suspected of belonging to the criminal network.

Opening the meeting, Deputy Director General of Luxembourg Police, Jos Schmit said they had been supporting project Pink Panthers since the first reported theft in the Grand Duchy in 2003, and through this cooperation had identified three criminal groups in the country.

“I am convinced that expanding INTERPOL’s part in the fight against transnational crime will bring enormous benefits to our operations, as the Organisation not only provides experience, analysis and resources, but can also bring valuable guidance,” said Deputy Director General Schmit.

Mr Schmit also underlined the need for judicial cooperation, adding; “In addition to the pure police aspects of the issue, other problems have to be resolved, particularly in the field of jurisdiction. If we want to seriously increase our success rate we have to overcome these limits by legal multilateral cooperation. The more practical and the more operational the procedure, the better it is.”

The main objective of INTERPOL’s Project Pink Panthers is to centralize information related to the suspects of such crimes, identifying material (nominal data, photos, fingerprints, DNA), the crimes in which they are involved, and their criminal partnerships and contacts.

Analysing this information and building networks, such as through the working groups, enables investigators to make links between countries that might not otherwise be noticed and to share the necessary information to identify, locate and arrest members of the gang.

In February, Spanish police arrested Borko Ilincic who was the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice, or international wanted persons alert, issued at the request of the United Arab Emirates for the 2007 Wafi Mall robbery in Dubai where the robbers escaped with jewellery worth an estimated EUR 3 million after driving their vehicles through the shop window.

Since 2011, cooperation between member countries via INTERPOL’s Project Pink Panthers has led to the arrest of more than 200 members of the gang around the world.

The group is believed to include approximately 800 individuals responsible for more than 370 robberies in 35 countries since 1999, with the value of stolen jewellery estimated at more than EUR 330 million.

Countries represented at the meeting are Andorra, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong (China), Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Monaco, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and USA.