Within the past few years INTERPOL has worked to demystify this highly specialized and elite organization. Muth, of the Maryland State Police, is currently serving a two ­year term as assistant chief, in charge of the State Liaison Division to INTERPOL-U.S. National Central Bureau (USNCB) in Washington, D.C.

When the International Criminal Police Organization, better known as INTER­POL, comes to mind, law enforcement officers may oftentimes visualize James Bond leap­ing from an exploding car, high-level European es­pionage, or yet another hierarchy of governmental bureaucracy. Law enforcement is arduous enough at the local level, right?!

"Most law enforcement officers have heard the word INTERPOL but they don't quite know what it is," said Lt. Mike Muth. Within the past few years INTERPOL has worked to demystify this highly specialized and elite organization. Muth, of the Maryland State Police, is currently serving a two ­year term as assistant chief, in charge of the State Liaison Division to INTERPOL-U.S. National Central Bureau (USNCB) in Washington, D.C.

Muth manages the State Liaison Division's ex­change of information and requests between for­eign and domestic police. The division also serves as liaison for INTERPOL offices established in each of the 50 states. In addition, the State Liaison Division is in charge of getting the word out about how INTERPOL can assist local law enforcement agencies in their criminal investigations.

Snapshot of INTERPOL History

Seventy-five years ago, INTERPOL began as the International Criminal Po­lice Organization, based in Vienna. The agency relo­cated to Berlin in the late 1930s and became a branch of the Gestapo. After World War II, it was renamed and moved to Paris. INTERPOL is now head­quartered in Lyon, France, with Raymond Kendall, of Scotland Yard, in command as secretary-general. INTERPOL has 177 member countries, electronically linked to each other. Each member country establishes a National Central Bureau (NCB) for the purpose of that nation's involve­ment with INTERPOL. In the United States, the National Central Bureau, in Washington, D.C., is part of the U.S. Depar1ment of Justice, co-adminis­tered by the Treasury Department.

POLICE recently had the opportunity to interview various INTERPOL officials at their Washington, D.C., office. The head of the USNCB Criminal Di­vision, James York, describes INTERPOL as a mul­tifaceted organization. "INTERPOL is three things: (1) an internationally recognized channel of com­munication between police throughout the world; (2) an investigative resource for the conduct of crim­inal investigations worldwide; (3) an international database which links the databases with all the police throughout the world with one another. That's what it is," said York. 'The world is our beat."

The USNCB, Washington, D.C., office has five investigative divisions:

The Investigative Services Division

Nathaniel Jacobs is assistant chief of the Inves­tigative Division, which expedites responses on criminal history and wanted person inquires. In ad­dition, requests for searches of internal and external records, and translation services can be made here. Officers can contact this division 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In one case, the South Brunswick (N.J.) Police Depar1ment utilized the 24-hour service in April 1998 when the department received a frantic call from a woman claiming her husband, Sanjay Soni, had kid­napped her two daughters and was planning on taking them to India. The South Brunswick PD. contacted the New Jersey/INTERPOL Liaison Office in West Trenton at approximately 2:00 a.m., which in turn, contacted the INTERPOL office in Washington, D.C. Financial records showed that Soni was en route from New York to London. After several calls made by Washington's INTERPOL office to Scotland Yard and the Office of Intemational Affairs, London authorities arrested Soni at Heathrow Airport on April 24. He was extradited back to the U.S. and the girls were safe­ly returned to their mother.

The Alien/Fugitive Investigative Division

This division, headed by Assistant Chief Matthew Quinn, handles cases in­volving the location, apprehension and re­turn of fugitives, immigration violations, and passport fraud. The division is also responsible for the INTERPOL Notice System, which facilitates arrest warrants and other criminal information for dis­semination around the world. Member countries issue all-points bulletins, known as "Fugitive Diffusions" and "Red No­tices," that contain criminals' pho­tographs, fingerprints and details of the crimes committed.

Lt. Muth told POLICE, "The key to successful extradition of someone who has fled the country, is the cooperation of the prosecuting attorney's office." In order to issue a Fugitive Diffu­sion or Red Notice, there must be an arrest warrant and the of­fense must carry more than a year's imprisonment. The prose­cutor must prepare the extradition re­quest within a specified time period and pay any associated costs.

INTERPOL's Red Notices have con­tributed to the apprehension of many of the world's most wanted. Thang Thanh Nguyen was captured in December 1997, after six years of an intensive manhunt in­volving virtually every level of foreign and domestic law enforcement. In Jan­uary 1998, FBI Director Louis J. Freeh hailed Nguyen's capture as an exceptional example of international cooperation against violent crime. Among the agen­cies commended were the Monroe Coun­ty District Attorney's Office, the Ironde­quoit Police Department in New York, and the FBI's Buffalo Field Division.

Nguyen was wanted for the murder of a New York restaurant owner. A federal arrest warrant was issued in 1992, based upon a local arrest warrant issued by the Monroe County District Attorney's Of­fice, which had obtained a grand jury in­dictment, charging Nguyen with murder. In August 1996, the FBI named Nguyen to its list of "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives." The FBI suspected that Nguyen had fled to his native country of Vietnam. The Legal Attache' Office in Bangkok worked closely with the Vietnamese authorities, resulting in the arrest of Nguyen. On Jan. 6, 1998, FBI agents escorted Nguyen back to Rochester, N.Y.

The Financial Fraud Investigative Division

This division, governed by Assistant Chief James Lacey, focuses on fi­nancial crimes, such as bank fraud, comput­er and credit card fraud and counterfeiting of U.S. obligations. The Fraud Division also handles child abuse/pornography cases, customs and smuggling violations, docu­ment fraud, embezzlement, postal Climes, security and tax fraud, environmental crimes, and violation of endangered species.

The Drug Investigative Division

Assistant Chief Richard Barrett's divi­sion serves as a conduit for international drug matters. Information on drug impor­tation, distribution, drug-related intelli­gence reports, such as trafficking routes and smuggling methods, are coordinated with investigating agencies.

INTERPOL spends 60 percent of its time and resources fighting drug traf­ficking and considers Afghanistan to be the largest single producer of heroin, co­caine and morphine. Other illegal drug producing countries of concern for IN­TERPOL include Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia and Bolivia.

The Criminal Investigative Division

The Criminal Division, governed by Assistant Chief James York, facilitates cases involving art theft, child abduc­tions/parental kid­napping, explosives and firearms. This di­vision also adminis­ters to hijacking, hostage taking, kid­napping, organized crime, sabotage, terrorism, threats against high officials, stolen vehicles, and violent crimes.

Committed To Assisting Local Agencies

How can INTERPOL assist you in a criminal investigation? If your agency has a murder suspect who has suddenly skipped to Argentina, discovered drug traffickers in your jurisdiction with con­nections to a Colombian cartel, or is faced with kidnapping victims whose where­abouts are suspected to be in a foreign country, INTERPOL, with its immense amount of data and worldwide resources, can aid your investigation.

If you think you might have a case that falls under the auspices of INTERPOL, you can contact the USNCB at: (202) 616-9000; the State Liaison Division at (202) 616-1051, fax (202) 616-8400,, or write: INTERPOL­USNCB, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 20530.

Stacey Lorenson is administrative as­sistant for POLICE. She also served as assistant editor for Death Row, Vol. 8.

About the Author
Page 1 of 210
Next Page