LYON, France – An operation led by the French Gendarmerie Nationale targeting Eurasian organized crime networks has seen 22 arrests in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.
As part of Operation Vor, at the request of the French authorities INTERPOL recently deployed an Incident Response Team (IRT) under the umbrella of its Project Millennium. The IRT provided operational and analytical support by checking suspects against the Organization’s fingerprints and facial recognition databases.
The 22 arrests included Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian high-profile suspects from the Eurasian criminal hierarchy known as Thieves in Law. They are suspected of organizing a string of break-ins and thefts across Europe, as well as money laundering.
With a number of the suspects holding fake identity documents and using multiple identities, the INTERPOL team helped coordinate the exchange of critical information with member countries via the Organization’s I-24/7 secure police communications system.
Fingerprint checks led to the identification of an individual wanted by Latvia since 2011 for armed robbery and hostage taking. The fugitive had used a different identity in France.
Photographic analysis also led to the identification of an organized crime suspect who was the subject of an INTERPOL Green Notice issued by Georgia warning police worldwide about known criminals likely to commit crimes in other countries.
“International cooperation using INTERPOL’s policing capabilities provide us a vital opportunity to connect the dots between crime cases in different countries, and get the right information into the right hands at the right time,” said INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services, Tim Morris.
“This has been a unique opportunity to not only support a member country but also to help secure the community where INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters are based,” added Mr Morris.
Intelligence and forensic evidence gathered during the operation has been recorded in INTERPOL’s Project Millennium intelligence database to support further investigations and connect investigations worldwide.
In addition to the arrests, a hoard of stolen goods was recovered, including jewelry, luxury cars and electronic goods. Cash and 14 kg of gold were also seized.
INTERPOL launched Project Millennium in 1999 at the request of its member countries to tackle the emerging threat from transnational Eurasian organized crime. It currently involves 43 member countries.