PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – A top INTERPOL official attending the ASEAN chiefs of police meeting has stressed the role of international police collaboration in fighting transnational crime against a backdrop of increasing INTERPOL initiatives in Southeast Asia.
Speaking today at the 30th Annual Aseanapol Conference (24-28 May), INTERPOL Executive Director of Police Services Jean-Michel Louboutin said that since its inception in 1981, Aseanapol had led strong police co-operation in Southeast Asia and had become a key partner with INTERPOL in pioneering new initiatives in the region. As part of these initiatives, the meeting heard how INTERPOL was planning Operation INFRASEA (International Fugitive Round-Up and Arrest South East Asia), its first ever large-scale operation targeting serious child-sex offenders regionally. Mr Louboutin encouraged all ASEANAPOL countries to join the operation.
“As chiefs of police, the active involvement of your police forces in this new operation is vital to arrest these sex predators and ensure the safety of children in your communities,” said Mr Louboutin.
Recalling how INTERPOL’s Operation VICO in 2007 combined the efforts of police and INTERPOL National Central Bureaus in the region to rapidly identify Christopher Paul Neil, a previously unnamed Canadian sex offender, and locate him in Thailand, Mr Louboutin said the resounding success of this unprecedented operation showed how INTERPOL and its member countries could join forces and track down fugitives worldwide.
Another regional threat highlighted by Mr Louboutin was that posed by illegal medicines found on the internet and consumer markets. To curb this menace, INTERPOL’s senior official recalled how the world police body had co-ordinated two cross-border operations in the region – Operations Storm I and II in 2008 and 2009 – which proved so successful that an enlarged ‘Storm Network’ was now being created. This network will shape joint anti-counterfeit actions on an on-going basis.
With both organizations having signed in 2007 an agreement on exchanging information, allowing Aseanapol police officers to simultaneously search Aseanapol’s e-ADS database and INTERPOL’s global databases on stolen motor vehicles, wanted persons and stolen and lost travel documents, Mr Louboutin said 'while combining our strengths has enabled us to join forces to fight regional and global crime, our strong relationship has room to grow even more'.
“In this respect, the partnership which is making both our organizations stronger against offenders will within weeks see officers at all INTERPOL 188 National Central Bureaus able to access criminal information from Aseanapol's database via INTERPOL's I-24/7 secure global communication network," announced Mr Louboutin.
Describing the capacity to form solid regional networks and collaborate on multi-national operations as 'a particular strength of the ASEAN region', Mr Louboutin said that regional police co-operation had led to over 1,700 arrests for illegal soccer gambling during Operations SoGA I and II in 2007 and 2008.
“INTERPOL and the participating countries will now capitalize on this experience by mounting SoGA III this summer to coincide with the FIFA World Cup in South Africa."
“We anticipate links between illegal betting syndicates operating in this region and far beyond during the World Cup. INTERPOL’s global reach places it in a unique position to connect police against this transnational organized crime,” concluded Mr Louboutin.