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10 June 2015

INTERPOL ‘Pink Panthers’ meeting brings together investigators to share information

BUDVA, Montenegro – Investigators from 22 countries are meeting in Montenegro to exchange information about the ‘Pink Panthers’ international network of jewellery thieves.

The two-day (10 and 11 June) INTERPOL operational working group meeting brings together nearly 60 specialists to discuss the latest developments regarding the Pink Panthers criminal network, comprising approximately 800 individuals believed to be responsible for the theft of jewellery worth an estimated EUR 334 million in some 380 robberies across 35 countries since 1999.

This was the first Pink Panthers meeting organized by INTERPOL in the Balkans region. With many Pink Panthers gang members originating from the region, notably the former Yugoslavia, the meeting underscores the need to combat this criminal phenomenon at its roots.

Opening the meeting, the Head of Police of Montenegro, Slavko Stojanovic said the country strives to support investigations into Pink Panthers activity worldwide by exchanging information through INTERPOL’s global network via the National Central Bureau (NCB) in Podgorica.

“The fact that this meeting is attended by representatives of law enforcement agencies from across Europe, Asia and the Americas speaks to the importance of the project, and indicates the need for an even more efficient international exchange of information in combating organized crime,” said Mr Stojanovic.

William Labruyère, Coordinator of INTERPOL’s Project Pink Panthers, said the amount of criminal activity linked to the gang has decreased in recent years, in large part due to the efforts of the global police community leading to the arrest of many of the gang’s top figures.

INTERPOL’s Project Pink Panthers was launched in 2007 to assist law enforcement agencies worldwide to identify, locate and arrest suspects linked to the network by centralizing data on such crimes and the perpetrators involved (nominal data, fingerprints, DNA, photos).

By analysing this information and building a strong network of investigators, links can be identified between cases and countries that might otherwise go unnoticed.

As an example, in 2014 Spanish police arrested Borko Ilincic who was a key member of the Pink Panthers gang and the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice, or international wanted persons alert, issued at the request of the United Arab Emirates for a 2007 robbery in Dubai where the robbers drove their vehicles through the shop window.

Countries attending the meeting are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Greece, Hong Kong (China), Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA, as well as a representative from Europol.