LUANDA, Angola - Addressing the growth in transnational organized crime and increasing terrorism, police representatives from across Africa are attending INTERPOL’s 26th African Regional Conference to discuss a regional and global response to make communities and countries safer.
Taking place as the global police organization marks its 100th anniversary, the conference brings together more than 160 senior police leaders from 36 countries in Africa and around the world.
“These meetings provide opportunities to strengthen relationships, boost cooperation and, ultimately, improve law enforcement efforts,” said Arnaldo Manuel Carlos, Commissioner General of the Angolan National Police. “Every member country should make full use INTERPOL’s resources and police communications platform.”
Over three days (3-5 October), delegates will discuss the strengthening of international police cooperation in Africa, including continued coordination with regional police organizations such as AFRIPOL.
“This conference brings together INTERPOL member countries from across a very important region,” said INTERPOL President Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi. “In a world where criminals know no borders, our discussions aim to reinforce the safety of the African people and continent.”
In his opening statement, INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock sounded the alarm on simultaneous crises – from geopolitical instability to climate change and supply chain disruptions – and how this “polycrisis” is already being exploited by criminals.
“All the while, transnational organized crime keeps planning, targeting, hitting – and keeps getting more global,” said Secretary General Stock.
Recent INTERPOL-coordinated operations demonstrate the scale of the threat posed by organized crime groups in Africa. In the past year, INTERPOL operations with African law enforcement have led to more than 2,400 arrests, with over EUR 126 million in illicit flows seized or intercepted.
Driven largely by drug trafficking and cyber-enabled crime, organized crime groups also exploit the continent’s natural resources and vulnerable communities, extracting vast sums through human trafficking and migrant smuggling.
A primary focus of the conference is the challenge of seemingly borderless threats such as cybercrime and cyber-enabled crimes, which have seen a huge increase since COVID-19, causing considerable damage to businesses, critical infrastructure, and Internet users around the world.
Two recent INTERPOL operations targeting Black Axe and other West-African organized crime groups resulted in more than EUR 3 million in illicit proceeds seized or frozen, and more than 200 bank accounts blocked.
Black Axe and similar groups are responsible for the majority of the world’s cyber-enabled financial fraud, as well as many other serious crimes.
Emerging and persistent forms of terrorism in Africa will also be a topic of discussion. Just last April, INTERPOL efforts with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Somalia Tanzania and Uganda led to the arrest of 14 terror suspects.
Supporting the African frontlines
At the centre of tackling Africa’s crime threats is greater information-sharing, the lifeblood of international police cooperation. African member countries’ use of INTERPOL databases has traditionally lagged behind that of other world regions, although significant progress has been made.
In the past year alone, police data shared by African police increased by 7 per cent while use of INTERPOL databases grew by 26 per cent.
INTERPOL’s secure police communications network I-24/7 has also been extended successfully beyond National Central Bureaus in 47 African member countries.
“We operate in a common threat landscape, and cooperation across regions must be as seamless as it is global,” said Secretary General Stock.
“In our centenary year, INTERPOL is more resolved than ever to support the African frontlines and enhance their potential.”