LYON, France – INTERPOL has coordinated a series of operations to screen travellers and vehicles at key border points throughout Africa, Southeast and Central Asia to help member countries boost security.
Under the aegis of the INTERPOL Integrated Border Management Task Force (IBMTF), a series of operations has been held to enhance border security measures at airports and land borders in 16 countries.
Three phases of Operation Hawk – which combines counter-terrorism training with operational activities aimed at detecting the trafficking of radiological or nuclear materials and chemical precursors – took place in Côte d’Ivoire from 24-28 June; Malaysia and Thailand from 8-15 July; and Indonesia and the Philippines from 16-21 November.
During the operations, police screened more than 12,000 travellers at international airports and other border points against INTERPOL’s nominal and Stolen and Lost Travel Document (SLTD) databases. In Southern Thailand, more than 70 kg of sodium chlorate was discovered inside a van by Thai Customs officials – enough of the chemical to potentially manufacture a number of powerful Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Further border management training operations were conducted in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Timor Leste from 11-19 November, and in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan from 23-27 November.
Some 22,000 passengers were screened against the SLTD database in the Central Asian operations, with an additional 9,000 screened in the Pacific region, generating a total of 11 positive hits. In addition, nearly 1,500 checks were conducted on individuals, vehicles and cargo searching for radiological or nuclear material.
INTERPOL’s Smuggling Training Operation Programme (STOP) offers training on effective border management practices and the use of the SLTD database combined with operations at major airports, to disrupt the criminal networks providing fraudulent travel documents to illegal immigrants.
A STOP “train the trainer” workshop was held at the INTERPOL Regional Bureau in Abidjan from 18-21 November, where the 19 participants learned how to conduct operations based on the STOP model in their home countries. During the operational portion of the course, some 8,600 searches were conducted of INTERPOL’s databases, resulting in two hits.
To further enhance the abilities of law enforcement in member countries to secure their borders, technical equipment was provided to most countries participating in the operations allowing them to access INTERPOL’s I-24/7 secure police communication system remotely from border points.
“Countries can only assure the safety of their citizens if they can prevent dangerous people and goods from entering their borders, whether by land, air or sea. Operations like these are therefore vital activities which give local border authorities the skills and knowledge to use INTERPOL’s databases to effectively secure and manage their international borders,” said Michael O’Connell, INTERPOL’s Director of Operational Support.
An additional IBMTF initiative, Operation Mwewe, took place in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda from 29 October to 9 November. Following a pre-operation training involving 18 participants from eight African countries, local authorities in each country screened more than 7,500 passengers against INTERPOL’s SLTD and fingerprints databases, and nearly 500 vehicles against the Stolen Motor Vehicles (SMV) database.
IBMTF – with support from the Specialized Crime and Analysis, and Counter-terrorism, Public Safety and Maritime Security units – takes the lead in coordinating INTERPOL initiatives involving border security and plans and coordinates border security management policy. It also works to enhance the capacity of border security in INTERPOL member countries, develops partnerships with international organizations and the private sector, and allocates resources to border security initiatives.
Substantial funding for IBMTF operations and initiatives comes from the Government of Canada.