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INTERPOL Plays a Key Role in Police Activities in Colombia

By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski, Faculty Member, Criminal Justice and
By Major Efren Munoz, Major, Criminal Investigation Directorate and INTERPOL, National Police of Colombia

INTERPOL, an acronym that stands for International Criminal Police Organization, is an inter-governmental organization of 194 member countries.

As such, INTERPOL improves public safety by sharing intelligence and information to combat a wide range of crimes. INTERPOL is responsible for policing initiatives in counterterrorism, cyber-crime, and organized and emerging crime. It participates in fugitive investigative support, police data management, forensic support, criminal analysis, special projects, and operates command and coordination centers.

[Podcast: Role of INTERPOL in Fighting International Crime]

There is an INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) in each member country that acts as the point of contact for the INTERPOL General Secretariat and its members around the world. The General Secretariat, based in Lyon, France, coordinates the organization’s day-to-day activities.

INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau Is Part of Colombia’s Criminal Investigation Directorate

On the local country level, the NCBs are run by national police officials. In Colombia, for example, INTERPOL’s NCB is part of the Criminal Investigation Directorate and the main operational and judicial police unit of the Colombian National Police, La Dirección de Investigación Criminal e INTERPOL de la Policía Nacional, also known as DIJIN.

Colombia is located in South America on the southern border of Panama and Central America. With coasts on the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans, Colombia shares a border with Panama, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador. This strategic and geographical location puts Colombia in a unique position for illegal international activities to flourish.

National and international criminal organizations in Colombia are actively involved in drug and human trafficking, as well as money laundering. Years of internal armed conflict have promoted an illicit culture of corruption, guerrilla activities, terrorism, kidnappings, extortion and illegal mining, in addition to fostering various domestic social problems. Also, the huge foreign demand for cocaine has had a widespread impact on crime in Colombia.

International Crime Exceeds the Colombian Law Enforcement Capacities

Despite Colombian government efforts to meet social needs and decades of hard work to control and confront criminal organizations, international crime exceeds Colombian law enforcement capacities. Therefore, the Colombian National Police must work with its law enforcement colleagues worldwide. In this vein, the role of the  NCB in Bogotá is essential to maintaining regional safety. Co-author Major Efren Munoz works with INTERPOL in Colombia and serves as a leader of domestic criminal investigations.

The Bogotá NCB permits national institutions to access INTERPOL’s criminal databases so they can address regional crime and detect emerging criminal trends that affect Colombia.

INTERPOL notices are another important tool for exchanging information. Member countries can request assistance or alert local police agencies by sharing critical information on international criminal activities.

Colors Indicate the Various Types of INTERPOL Notices

INTERPOL notices are color-coded by specific goals:

  • Red Notice: To seek the location and arrest of persons wanted for prosecution or to serve a sentence.
  • Yellow Notice: To help locate missing persons, often minors, or to help identify persons who are unable to identify themselves.
  • Blue Notice: To collect additional information about a person’s identity, location or activities in relation to a crime.              
  • Black Notice: To seek information on unidentified bodies
  • Green Notice: To provide warnings of a person’s criminal activities and where that person is considered to be a possible threat to public safety.
  • Orange Notice: To warn of an event, person, object or a process representing a serious and imminent threat to public safety.
  • Purple Notice: To seek or provide information on modus operandi, objects, devices and concealment methods used by criminals.

According to a report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime “The biggest problem is that in parts of Colombia, the State does not have a monopoly on the use of force. Highly organized criminal structures such as drug trafficking mafias and paramilitary groups are well armed and dangerous. There are many private security companies, some of which use illegal weapons.” The Colombian government therefore “has a major challenge to disarm such groups and reduce violence. It also needs to strengthen gun control by increasing penalties for arms trafficking and the illegal carrying of arms.”

That challenge is the task of Colombia’s National Police working closely with INTERPOL.

About the Authors

Maj. Efren Munoz is a member of the Colombian National Police with more than eighteen years of experience in police service and criminal investigation, especially in crimes related to transnational organized crime, money laundering, forfeiture assets, terrorism, and drug trafficking. He has held positions that have allowed him to know crime closely, giving him the ability to successfully lead investigative processes and police operations against international criminal organizations, while working together with international representation agencies placed in Colombia such as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States.

Jarrod Sadulski

Dr. Sadulski is an Associate Professor within our School of Security and Global Studies. He has over two decades in the field of criminal justice. His expertise includes training on countering human trafficking, maritime security, effective stress management in policing and narcotics trafficking trends in Latin America. Jarrod frequently conducts in-country research and consultant work in Central and South America on human trafficking and current trends in narcotics trafficking. He also has a background in business development. Jarrod can be reached through his website at www.Sadulski.com for more information.

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