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INTERPOL’s Red Notice: Leading the Hunt for International Fugitives

SMALL AND MEDIUM BUSINESS - THE ALLIANCE (SMBTA) highlights a recent article by Warner

Center News a leading Southern California weekly newspaper for over 30 years.

Contacts
Small Medium Business-The Alliance
Ronald C. Sharp, Ph.d., 469-648-0190
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INTERPOL’s Red Notice

Leading the Hunt for International Fugitives

 

By: Ben Howard

Warner Center News

 

From its headquarters in Lyon, France, INTERPOL’s police network spans its 190

member countries enabling it to consistently assist in the pursuit of fugitives for both high

profile and lesser-known crimes. As a result of years of films and novels glamorizing

INTERPOL agents as fast-draw superheroes, there is still some public confusion

regarding what they do and how they do it.

 

One of INTERPOL’s most effective “tools” is the Red Notice, which has assisted in the

apprehension of thousands of wanted persons this past year.

 

Last month, Luka Magnotta was charged with murdering his former lover, Jun Lin, in

Montreal, Canada and mailing body parts to the Canadian Prime Minister and schools

around that country. Canadian police identified Magnotta as the probable killer and

issued their warrant for his arrest copying INTERPOL through its National Central

Bureau in Ottawa.

 

Hours later, the warrant seeking Magnotta’s arrest had been reviewed by INTERPOL,

translated into INTERPOL’s four official languages (English, French, Spanish, Arabic),

attached to a Red Notice and electronically circulated to all 190 INTERPOL members.

The Red Color of INTERPOL’s emblem on the Notice signals police to stop the person

and determine if their national laws will permit the fugitive to be detained until Canada

can seek his formal extradition.

 

When you operate in 190 countries with different legal systems, languages and

relationships with one another, you must have a system that is easy to understand and use

as well as one that respects the sovereign right of each member country to decide if and

how it wishes to cooperate with judicial authorities and police of another country. For

this reason, the INTERPOL Red Notice is not an arrest warrant and is not binding on an

INTERPOL member country unless that country decides to make it binding.

 

Its purpose is to provide countries with information to protect their borders and citizens

from fugitives seeking to enter their country while being hunted internationally. The Red

Notice has been described as a Wanted Poster with teeth that appears around the world in

minutes and includes a picture of the accused, a description of the offense, a supporting

arrest warrant and a commitment by the country requesting it to seek the extradition of

the person sought.

 

Magnotta had flown from Montreal to Paris before authorities were aware of his crime,

so he was not stopped at either airport as he would have been had the Red Notice been

distributed before his attempted flight. Meanwhile, because of the sensational nature of

the crime, the story reached the public through media reports even as police in many

countries searched.

 

Two days later, Magnotta, who had arrived by bus, visited an Internet café in Berlin. The

café’s owner and other customers immediately recognized him. Police were called and he

was in custody in a matter of minutes.

 

“Public awareness and public support for police in the search for any criminal is perhaps

the most important advantage our society maintains, whether hunting terrorists or those

accused of individual horrendous crimes like Magnotta,” said INTERPOL’s Secretary-

General Ronald K. Noble.

 

Meanwhile, 5,700 miles from Germany in Cambodia, Alexander Tro-fimov, a Russian

national, was being arrested by authorities responding to a Red Notice issued by

INTERPOL at the request of Russia. Tro-fimov, a known pedophile, was wanted by

Russia for sex crimes against children.

 

Former Colombian model Angie Sanclemente Valencia, also the subject of a Red Notice,

was suspected of recruiting young women to smuggle cocaine from Argentina to Europe

via Mexico. She was arrested in Buenos Aires by Argentinean police after INTERPOL’s

Fugitive Investigative Support (FIS) unit, working with police in Buenos Aires, Bogota

and Mexico City, provided information to Argentinean police on her whereabouts and

travel plans.

 

After her arrest, INTERPOL’s Secretary-General Noble said, “This case has proven to be

a perfect model of international police co-operation, combining action by our National

Central Bureaus on the ground and our ability to instantly share information on wanted

persons via our Fugitive Unit at our Lyon headquarters.”

 

INTERPOL will issue Red Notices only "if it is satisfied that all the conditions for

processing the information have been fulfilled.” For example, a Notice will not be

published if it violates Article 3 of the INTERPOL Constitution, forbidding any

intervention or activities of a predominantly “political, military, religious or racial

character."

 

This past year, INTERPOL declined a request by Egypt to issue Red Notices for 15

 

individuals - 12 American, 2 Lebanese and 1 Jordanian national - with links to several

US-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) after ruling that Egypt’s request was

a political matter.

 

In 2011, 7,958 persons were arrested or detained following the publication of INTERPOL

Notices. Among the notable successes were:

-Joran Van der Sloot, a Dutch national suspected in Aruba in the case of the missing

American Natalee Holloway. He was arrested in Chile after circulation of a Red Notice

based on warrants issued by Peru and the United States. His transfer in custody wearing

an INTERPOL flak jacket was seen worldwide.

 

-Austrian police arrested and extradited Ali Achekzai, an Afghani national, based on a

Red Notice and INTERPOL’s matching of a DNA linking him to violent sexual

attacks in California over a seven-year period. He was sentenced to 61 years to

life.

 

-Dragan Vasiljkovic, a suspected Bosnian war criminal and the subject of a Red Notice

issued at the request of Croatia, was arrested in Australia and extradited.

 

“People must remember that INTERPOL’s strength comes from countries where

fugitives have fled alerting police worldwide via INTERPOL Red Notices to use their

national powers and judicial authorities to identify, locate and detain these dangerous

fugitives before they can do more harm or escape justice. All too often, local authorities

don’t get enough credit for their outstanding law enforcement work,” says Secretary-

General Noble.

 

About SMBTA:
SMALL AND MEDIUM BUSINESS - THE ALLIANCE (SMBTA) is a national organization
dedicated to serving and educating small businesses by providing information regarding small business and environmental sustainability.

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