Police in Central America have identified hundreds of cars as potentially stolen after conducting universal checks of their national car registration databases against INTERPOL’s database of stolen motor vehicles.
More than 4 million searches have been performed during the first phase of Operation ‘Huracan’. The hits underscore the global nature of vehicle trafficking, with more than 650 positive matches so far between cars reported stolen in the Americas, Asia and Europe and ones registered in participating countries in Central America.
It is the General Secretariat’s first joint operation in the region with the INTERPOL Sub-Regional Bureau (SRB) in San Salvador, El Salvador; the INTERPOL National Central Bureaus in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama; and the motor vehicle units in these countries.
Mexican authorities also have committed to participate in the operation, which would nearly double the amount of searches being conducted. Mexico has not previously contributed any records to INTERPOL’s stolen motor vehicles (SMV) database.
Officers working at INTERPOL’s General Secretariat and SRB San Salvador are analysing the search results to establish links between organized groups which may have been involved in bringing the cars into the countries with false documents. Follow-up investigative work and police action will be conducted by national forces in the countries concerned.
Operation Huracan is expected to serve as a model for future INTERPOL activities targeting vehicle theft. It is being organized at the request of the Commission of Chiefs/Directors of Police in Central America and the Caribbean (CJPCAC). All previous INTERPOL joint regional operations targeting vehicle theft have taken place in Africa.
The Central American countries, after submitting their national stolen vehicle data to the SMV database, are providing SRB San Salvador access to their national car registration databases for comparison against INTERPOL’s database.
The checks are being conducted using an adapted version of the Mobile INTERPOL Network Device (MIND), which was developed by INTERPOL to enable member countries to give access to its databases to officers in the field.
INTERPOL’s SMV database contains 4 million records submitted by 116 member countries. This year , law enforcement officers have identified more than 2,400 vehicles a month on average as stolen using the database.