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10 February 2017

INTERPOL operational exercise targets smuggling of chemical explosive precursors

BANGKOK, Thailand – An international police operation across Southeast Asia has seen hundreds of thousands of passengers, vehicles, and cargo screened at border points as part of regional efforts targeting the international smuggling of chemical explosive precursors used for criminal purposes, including the manufacture of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

Operation Chase III (Chemical Anti-Smuggling Enforcement) was an intelligence-led, multi-agency initiative which brought together almost 450 law enforcement officials and representatives from a range of agencies including customs and immigration.

The three-day (1-3 February) operational exercise also targeted dual-use and toxic industrial chemicals, and was led by INTERPOL’s Chemical and Explosives Terrorism Prevention Unit, in coordination with the INTERPOL National Central Bureaus in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

The operation saw more than 400,000 searches conducted on individuals against INTERPOL’s databases containing information on criminals and stolen and lost travel documents, with the support of national liaison officers deployed to INTERPOL’s Liaison Office in Bangkok to assist national coordination teams on location.

Close to 1,000 checks were performed on imported goods, with more than 700 secondary checks of luggage conducted by law enforcement and customs officials.

As a result of the operation’s systematic and coordinated screening, Malaysian law enforcement officials also uncovered other offences, with four individuals arrested for possessing 165 kg of Ketum, an offence under the 1952 Malaysian Poisons Act.

Alan Grimmer, a coordinator at INTERPOL’s CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives) Sub-Directorate, said: “This operation and the regional training which preceded it will strengthen the capacity of participating law enforcement officers responsible for coordinating counter-smuggling operations in their own countries. It provides them with connections with neighbouring countries to exchange real-time information to interdict chemicals being smuggled across borders.”

Philippine Special Envoy on Transnational Crime, Ambassador Anselmo Simeon P. Pinili, said: “The Philippines urges INTERPOL to continue its ongoing support in this area. This operation highlighted how a multi-agency approach to border security is critical to increase the safety of the Philippines and the Southeast Asian region.”

Funded by Global Affairs Canada, Operation Chase III was the third such phase undertaken under the framework of Project Chase focusing on Southeast Asia. Each phase includes a crime scene investigation course, an investigative skills course and pre-operation coordination meetings with experts and law enforcement officers from countries in the region, culminating in an operation.

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