Fugitives tracked down in INTERPOL-led international operation

13 August 2009

LYON, France – An inaugural international operation led by INTERPOL targeting fugitives in co-ordination with seven INTERPOL member countries has resulted in 45 fugitives being either located or arrested worldwide.

Operation Infra-Red (International Fugitive Round-Up and Arrest – Red Notices), from 1-30 June, targeted fugitives thought to be located in one of the operation’s seven actively participating member countries – Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Jamaica, United Kingdom and the United States. It saw INTERPOL team up with the U.S. Marshals Service, the UK’s Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), and Crime Stoppers International to fully exploit the latest available intelligence to locate, arrest and secure the possible extradition of internationally wanted criminals against whom there were INTERPOL Red Notices.

The fugitives were selected according to the severity of their offences (including murder, rape and drug trafficking), and the operation involved the more difficult cases on which there was little information. Out of more than 470 cases selected for Infra-Red, 45 fugitives were either positively located or arrested. Colombia and Jamaica also ran national operations in June targeting locally wanted criminals.

INTERPOL’s Fugitive Investigative Support (FIS) unit at its General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, with the support of the Organization’s Command and Co-ordination Centre, was the international focal point for any information received on the fugitives, assembling, analyzing and forwarding this information to the relevant countries through INTERPOL’s network of 187 National Central Bureaus (NCBs) for action. The actively participating countries police forces and agencies, including Crime Stoppers International, also allocated staff to INTERPOL’s General Secretariat to assist with the INTERPOL follow-up of the operation.

With Operation Infra-Red taking place in conjunction with the U.S. Marshals’ Operation FALCON – an initiative targeting fugitives in the United States – U.S. Marshals Service Director John F Clark said: “The U.S. Marshals Service is proud to have played a role in the inaugural Operation Infra-Red. This operation brought together law enforcement agencies worldwide and proved that it is becoming increasingly difficult for criminals to find a place to hide.”

The Assistant Director of INTERPOL’s Fugitive Investigative Support unit, Martin Cox, said that the inaugural operation headed by INTERPOL was a learning opportunity whose results will encourage more countries to participate in future Infra-Red operations. He said that international co-operation was key to success in locating and bringing international fugitives to justice, including the need to update INTERPOL wanted persons Red Notices with new information.

“Operation Infra-Red shows that even if fugitives go on the run for years, they will know that INTERPOL and the international law enforcement community will keep on searching for them until they are located and arrested, no matter how long it takes,” warned Mr Cox.

In this respect, SOCA’s Deputy Director of International Affairs, David Armond, said that “the success of Operation Infra-Red demonstrates how joint collaborative work across the globe raises the risk of arrest to criminals who believe that they can evade capture. A number of extremely dangerous criminals who were at large in the UK will now face justice as the result of this operation."

Among those arrested worldwide during Operation Infra-Red was Bruce Vito Veniero, an American citizen wanted for drug trafficking who went on the run in 1997 after signing a guilty plea bargain with the U.S. federal government and posting bail of one million dollars. He was arrested in Buenos Aires on 23 June after INTERPOL’s Regional Bureau in the Argentinian capital provided key investigative leads from the U.S. Marshals Service. He is now being held in Argentina awaiting extradition to the United States where he faces life imprisonment.