Several years ago, when Norwegian law enforcement authorities arrested a suspect in a crime they were investigating, they found in his possession pictures of another unidentified man shown molesting young boys in Southeast Asia. They learned that the man pictured had anonymously posted hundreds of such photos of himself online. Norwegian police reached out to the International Criminal Police Organization, popularly known as Interpol, for help in tracking down this suspected pedophile across international borders.
Interpol sent what it calls a blue notice (see sidebar) to its member countries and their media outlets. The notice generated substantive leads, including one providing the suspect’s name, which allowed police to find where he lived in the United States. Within 48 hours of the tip that led to his identification, authorities were able to apprehend him.
That’s just one example of how Interpol, formed in 1923, works with countries around the world to enforce the law. Headquartered in Lyon, France, the organization currently has 190 member countries. It works with law enforcement in each country, but Interpol cannot do its job without input and assistance from the private sector.
The major domains where Interpol is pursuing private-sector international partnerships are cybercrime, biometrics and forensics, and illicit trade, such as pharmaceuticals, says Julia Viedma, Interpol’s director for international partnership. However, Interpol has private partners in many other areas, like human trafficking. And when necessary, Interpol will also work with companies on a one-time basis for a specific case or project.
“When we talk about cooperation with the private sector, we are talking about two main things,” says Viedma. The first is assistance in the research and development of new tools to help law enforcement face new challenges brought about by technology, such as the Internet and smart cards; the second is capacity building, such as training and sharing expertise.
High-tech crimes. Interpol made headlines early in 2012 with a mass arrest of individuals involved in the cybercrime group Anonymous.