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23 September 2016

Tackling organized crime in Latin America and Caribbean focus of INTERPOL meeting

WILLEMSTAD, Curaçao – Addressing the global problem of Latin American and Caribbean drug crime and its links to other serious crimes, particularly migrant smuggling and human trafficking, was the focus of INTERPOL’s third annual Project Fortaleza meeting held in the Curaçao capital.

Project Fortaleza provides Latin American and Caribbean law enforcement with the skills and services they need to address the threat of organized crime. These include gang watch lists, intelligence officer networks, regionally coordinated police operations and crime analysis, as well as access to INTERPOL’s wide range of criminal databases and capabilities.

Bringing together 100 participants from 23 countries, the three-day (6 – 8 September) joint INTERPOL-Curaçao Justice Ministry meeting called for law enforcement across the region to increase its use of INTERPOL networks and capabilities, particularly Red Notices, to boost the identification and arrest of criminals across Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Although Latin American organized crime groups are typically known for trafficking drugs, they are increasingly diversifying to more global crime such as arms smuggling, human trafficking and economic crime,” commented Nelson Navarro, Curaçao’s Justice Minister, responsible for law enforcement in Curaçao.

“Law enforcement can only address these challenges by also acting globally. Project Fortaleza addresses organized crime tactically and across the full spectrum of crime areas to ensure an all-inclusive, regional approach,” he added.

“Enabling officers from so many Latin America and Caribbean countries to come together in this way gives them a unique opportunity to share their investigative experiences and collectively identify the most suitable methods for tackling regional organized crime,” said Curaçao Police Chief Mauricio Sambo.

“Crime is evolving very quickly and it is only by working together through organizations like INTERPOL, and with one another as a region, that we can realistically tackle existing and evolving crime threats. Fortaleza reinforces the region’s ability to detect, track, report and prohibit the flow of illicit goods along existing and new trafficking routes, which helps our police forces safeguard our national borders and security,” he added.

The Head of INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau (NCB) in Curacao, Norbert Minguel, highlighted Curacao’s efforts to strengthen national border-security procedures by integrating INTERPOL’s stolen and lost travel document database into its airport and harbour border management systems, and described how INTERPOL’s global policing capabilities for enhanced traveller screening will help prevent the movement of criminals.

Hosted by NCB Curacao, the Fortaleza meeting was coordinated with INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters INTERPOL’s Criminal Organizations and Drugs Sub-Directorate.

“Through project Fortaleza, INTERPOL boosts communication between INTERPOL’s General Secretariat, member countries and police officers in the field, which in turn boosts the exchange, storage and cross-referencing of operational and actionable intelligence,” said Jose de Gracia, INTERPOL Assistant Director for Drugs and Organized Crime.

“The project promotes solid operational working practices in the region, builds sustainable operational capacity and ensures police forces across Latin America and the Caribbean can innovate and exploit cutting-edge investigative technology, which is a real game-changer for law enforcement in this region,” added Mr de Gracia.

INTERPOL member countries which took part in the meeting included: Argentina, Aruba, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Netherlands, Panama, Saint Lucia, Sint Maarten, Spain, Uruguay, United Kingdom, United States and Venezuela. The Police Force of Bonaire (Netherlands Special Municipality) was also represented at the meeting.

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