Interpol experience in combating crime - Hindustan Times
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Interpol experience in combating crime

Apr 20, 2024 09:55 PM IST

Indian agencies have worked closely with Interpol to protect the country’s tech infrastructure against cyber criminals

Where did you last hear about Interpol? For most, the answer is likely from a film or TV show. Interpol is often portrayed in popular culture as an elite global police force jumping out of helicopters to catch international criminal masterminds. The reality is nowhere near as glamorous but the impact of Interpol’s work with key partners such as India on dismantling criminal networks is no less dramatic.

The entrance hall of Interpol's headquarters in Lyon, central France.(HT archive) PREMIUM
The entrance hall of Interpol's headquarters in Lyon, central France.(HT archive)

National borders and jurisdictions present opportunities for increasingly sophisticated criminals to commit crimes and evade capture. The tools that Interpol provides support members to close that net and bring criminals to justice. Interpol is a network of police forces and law enforcement agencies which work closely together — sharing data, expertise and criminal profiles — to keep its 196 member countries safe. It is less about kicking down doors than spotting patterns in data and intelligence to track down the proverbial needle in the haystack.

India’s recent G20 presidency was instrumental in reminding the world how the ancient Indian philosophy of vasudhaiva kutumbakam is an astute observation of the importance of working together to tackle shared challenges and global threats. Police forces globally can learn much from how India has worked with Interpol to reach across borders and stop organised crime in its tracks. India, an important Interpol member which sits on its 13-country executive committee, is a critical partner in this endeavour and it is a pleasure for me at Interpol to work so closely with Indian law enforcement to tackle drug smuggling, people trafficking and cybercrime.

India’s geographical location between the Golden Crescent and Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle, which account for 90% of the world’s opium supply, presents numerous challenges and foreign gangs seek to use sea routes through the west coast of India to ply their poisonous trade. The rise of synthetic drugs, such as fentanyl, threatens to compound this situation.

But Indian law enforcement agencies are leading the way in using technology to stop drug trafficking in its tracks. Anti-narcotics bureau investigators recently arrested a foreign national sent to Goa to peddle drugs, but upon examination of the eight mobile phones in his possession, they detected and detained a bigger criminal responsible for no less than an estimated 30% of India’s drug trade. Technological expertise is vital to get to the root of this complex issue and Indian law enforcement is delivering operational success through deploying that alongside international partners.

Similarly, Indian agencies have worked closely with Interpol to protect the country’s tech infrastructure against cyber criminals, who, through ransomware attacks, attempt to cripple banks, schools, and government agencies.

Last year, India was at the heart of a multinational effort coordinated by Interpol under Operation Synergia, which took down more than 1,300 malicious IP addresses and URLs and disconnected over 70 servers. India also participated in Operation HAECHI, which led to authorities blocking more than 82,000 suspicious bank accounts and seizing over $300 million. India’s law enforcement makes a huge contribution to the world’s response to tech crime.

Even more heinous than drug crime, cybercrime and financial crime, are those which exploit vulnerable people as a commodity to trade for profit. Human trafficking remains an appalling scourge and India’s Central Bureau of Investigation has led efforts, alongside Interpol, to break the business model of human traffickers. Operation Storm Makers II in December 2023 saw India and 26 other countries work with Interpol to arrest more than 280 people and rescue 149 victims of trafficking.

These are the real success stories of the everyday heroes in India who work with Interpol and other member countries to make India safer. Their work is vital and Interpol will be there for them as the world faces even more complex criminal challenges in the future.

Stephen Kavanagh is Interpol’s executive director of police services. The views expressed are personal

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