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10 April 2015

INTERPOL border security operation targets criminals traveling in Southeast Asia

SINGAPORE – The first border security operation coordinated by INTERPOL’s Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) in Singapore has led to the arrest of international fugitives attempting to travel in countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

During Operation Sunbird (16-24 March), which focused on identifying wanted criminals, police and immigration authorities in nine ASEAN countries screened passports at land, air and sea border points against INTERPOL’s databases, including its Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database.

More than 500,000 searches were conducted during the operation, resulting in 16 ‘hits’ on passports in the SLTD database and identifying two individuals who were subjects of INTERPOL Red Notices for wanted persons.

Michael O’Connell, INTERPOL’s Director of Operational Police Support, underlined the crucial need for countries to implement strong security measures at all their border points to enhance internal and international security.

“Countries can better ensure the safety of their citizens if they can prevent dangerous people from passing through their borders. Operations such as these are therefore essential to ensuring local border authorities have the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively secure and manage their international frontiers,” said Mr O’Connell.

The operation, conducted under the umbrella of INTERPOL’s Integrated Border Management Task Force, was coordinated by INTERPOL’s Command and Coordination Centre operations room at the IGCI, which provided real-time support including information exchange amongst the participating countries.

Based on information exchanged during the operation, two additional wanted persons were located in the Philippines and a third was arrested in Europe.

“This exercise is just the beginning of a sustainable effort by us to combat terrorism and other transnational crimes, and I encourage all countries to fully utilize the tools and services readily provided by INTERPOL,” said the Executive Director of the ASEANAPOL Secretariat, Pengiran Dato Paduka Hj. Abdul Wahab Pg. Hj. Omar.

Operation Sunbird was the culmination of a year-long INTERPOL training programme on improving investigation capabilities in ASEAN countries. Supported by the Government of Canada, the programme saw more than 100 law enforcement officers in the region receive specialized training in forensics, investigative skills and using INTERPOL’s global tools and services to prevent and combat terrorism.

INTERPOL’s Director of Capacity Building and Training, Dale Sheehan, highlighted the importance of following classroom training with real-life operations, as with Operation Sunbird, to ensure police are able to translate their new skills into daily actions.

Countries participating in Operation Sunbird were Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Additionally, representatives from ASEANAPOL, the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Canada and the Singapore Immigration Checkpoint Authority observed the operation.