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22 June 2012 - Media release

INTERPOL targets organized crime with global initiative against trafficking in illicit goods

World’s police project to focus on financial links with organized crime and terrorism

LYON, France – INTERPOL, the world’s largest international police organization, is launching a major initiative to identify and dismantle the organized crime networks siphoning billions of Euros from the public purse through the trafficking of illicit goods, including tobacco products.

Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said INTERPOL’s project combating illicit trade will assist police across its 190 member countries to not only target the transnational crime groups but also identify the routes used in transporting illicit goods, which are often also used for human trafficking and drug smuggling.

With support from key international partners including the World Customs Organization (WCO), Europol and OLAF, INTERPOL will collect intelligence, develop strategic analytical reports, engage in capacity building and launch joint interdiction operations to target organized crime groups that smuggle illicit and counterfeit products.

In this respect, the key role that business will play in supporting the initiative was underlined with the decision by Philip Morris International (PMI) to pledge 15 million Euros over a three-year period to INTERPOL's Fund for a Safer World to help the world police body develop a strong global programme.

“With clear links between transnational organized crime trafficking in illicit goods and the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit goods, combined with growing evidence of terrorism also being financed through illicit trade, INTERPOL is well placed to coordinate global efforts to break these ties," said INTERPOL President Khoo Boon Hui.

“We are appreciative of the financial support provided by PMI which recognizes how entrenched the criminal networks involved in the trafficking in illicit products, including cigarettes, have become, and the need for law enforcement action. This financial support from PMI is significant because INTERPOL alone will decide where, when and how to launch its anti-smuggling initiatives worldwide," said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.

"INTERPOL has been involved in combatting the illegal trafficking of goods for many years and our experience shows not only clear links between organized crime and the illicit trade of all goods, including cigarettes, but also that this serious problem will not go away any time soon,” added Mr Noble.

“We hope and believe that the success we will demonstrate in the coming years will encourage our member countries and other stakeholders to make a long term commitment to choking off the money and dismantling the transnational organized crime and even terrorist groups perpetrating these crimes,” concluded the INTERPOL Chief.

The launch of the programme comes mid-way through Black Poseidon, an INTERPOL-led operation involving police, customs, prosecutors, investigators and intellectual property crime experts across five countries in Eastern Europe which has already seen around 500 individuals arrested or currently under investigation and the seizure of millions of euros worth of goods. The month long operation has again revealed the increasingly elaborate methods used by transnational crime groups to traffic illicit goods.

Similarly, the recently concluded Operation Worthy (April-June 2012) targeting criminal syndicates behind the illegal trafficking of ivory across 14 countries in Africa, resulted in more than 200 arrests and the seizure of nearly two tonnes of contraband elephant ivory.

INTERPOL's Trafficking in Illicit Goods Programme

Operation Black Poseidon