“Connecting police for a safer world” is the vision of INTERPOL the world’s largest international police organization, comprising 192 member countries. Based in Lyon, France, its role is to enable police around the world to work together in the fight against trans-boundary crime even where diplomatic relations don’t exist between countries. The organization provides police forces around the world with the tools and services necessary to do their jobs effectively. Training, investigative support, data sharing and secure communications channels are all part of a combined framework helping police to understand crime trends, analyze information, conduct operations and apprehend criminals.
INTERPOL AROUND THE WORLD
INTERPOL’s physical presence around the world comprises Special Representative offices at the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations, as well as a National Central Bureau in each of the member countries. Other public-sector partners include the World Customs Organization ,CEMAC (Economic Community of Central African States) and numerous government agencies. INTERPOL works with the private sector including both for-profit entities and non-profit bodies, such as non-governmental organizations and foundations. In addition, the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore (IGCI) is a cutting-edge research and development facility that enhances the organization’s presence in Asia. It addresses an increasingly challenging global landscape where criminals take advantage of new technology, the ease of international travel and the anonymous world of virtual business in the areas of cyber crime.
NOTE Europol is also a law enforcement agency but solely for the European Union and its members. It is not to be confused with INTERPOL as it operates as an independent agency. Europol focuses on handling criminal intelligence and fighting serious organized crimes by acting as a liaison between the relevant authorities of the member states, including those tasked with customs, immigration services, border and financial police etc.
Action is taken within the limits of existing laws in different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. INTERPOL’s constitution prohibits “any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character”.
Operation Thunderball—a 26-day worldwide effort spanning 109 countries and coordinated by Interpol and the World Customs Organization (WCO)— is a good example of INTERPOL’S work. The operation took place in June 2019 and led to seizures of of protected animals and plants. Among the confiscated items were 440 pieces of elephant tusks, 1,200 pounds (545 kilograms) of additional ivory products, five rhino horns, nearly 10,000 marine wildlife animals and their products, more than 2,600 plants, nearly 10,000 live turtles and tortoises, more than 4,300 birds, 23 live primates, 30 big cats and 74 truckloads of timber.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT COMMITTEE & WORKING GROUPS
The ECEC acts as a forum for discussing new strategies and practices, sharing experience and expertise, and building the bridges of international cooperation that are vital in the fight against international environmental crime. Within ECEC are a number of working groups including The INTERPOL Wildlife Crime Working Group which brings together specialized criminal investigators to initiate and lead a number of projects aimed at combating the poaching, trafficking, or possession of legally protected flora and fauna.