The heads of INTERPOL and Europol have called for urgent and coordinated action by law enforcement to identify and disrupt the organized crime networks behind unprecedented levels of people smuggling.
The need for coordinated action at the national, regional and international levels to address this rapidly escalating security issue was a key discussion point during the meeting between INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock and Europol Director Rob Wainwright at the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters today.
The joint resources of INTERPOL - the world's largest police organization able to access an operational network in the source and transit countries in West and North Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East – and Europol, the European Union's law enforcement agency, were underlined as being ideally situated to assist national law enforcement in combating the criminal networks behind irregular migration.
To this end, the two leaders have called on their respective services to urgently organize a summit of senior police officers form source, transit and destination countries.
"As we mark the anniversary of 9/11, an event which completely changed the security landscape, it is more important than ever that governments support law enforcement in implementing a need to share, rather than need to know, philosophy," said Secretary General Stock.
"Criminals who prey on the desperation of those fleeing conflict or poverty are making millions in profits, which can then be used to fuel corruption and fund other forms of serious transnational crime.
"We need each of our 190 member countries to play their part in providing the information which could be crucial in bringing these 'merchants of misery' to justice," said Mr Stock.
"INTERPOL's cooperation with Europol provides a streamlined method of information sharing between the global and European levels to ensure there is no gap for criminals to exploit," concluded the INTERPOL Chief.
"Europe has been facing numbers of migrants at unprecedented levels. We are all deeply moved by the tragedy of those people and our immediate and urgent task is to curb the organized crime groups which smuggle and distribute migrants across Europe," said Director Wainwright.
Mr Wainwright said that law enforcement services in the member states of the European Union, Europol and INTERPOL are confronted with increasingly sophisticated and unscrupulous syndicates which are becoming harder to combat, more agile, more international and more innovative in their use of new tools such as social media.
"It is of great importance that, in this challenging time, member states intensify their efforts in exchanging the crucial criminal data among themselves and with Europol and INTERPOL. This will enable us to be even more effective in identifying intelligence leads, closing the information gaps and disrupting the organized crime groups involved.
"Now more than ever we understand that security in the European Union is indivisible. Europol stands ready to step up its activities aimed at curbing the organized crime groups dealing with the facilitation of illegal immigration and will exploit all opportunities to join forces with INTERPOL to this end," concluded Director Wainwright.
In addition to its secure global police communications network which enables the real-time exchange of vital policing information across 190 countries, INTERPOL's range of databases including for foreign terrorist fighters, wanted persons, fingerprints, stolen and lost travel documents, stolen vessels and maritime piracy are also vital tools in identifying potential links between organized crime networks behind people smuggling and other crimes.
Europol has developed tailored operational and analytical tools to combat organized crime involved in facilitating the illegal immigration which can be used in ongoing law enforcement operations. Europol intelligence databases store the data from 500 agencies across Europe which allow for a quick identification of connections between organized crime groups and exchange of crucial operational data between involved law enforcement services.
With social media and the Internet facilitating organized crime and terrorism, the two leaders also discussed the ongoing cooperation in tackling cybercrime through the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore and Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) in The Hague.