South America focus of INTERPOL operation to track down international fugitives

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Hundreds of international fugitives wanted for serious offences including murder, rape, child sexual abuse, kidnapping and drug trafficking who are believed to be hiding in South America are the focus of an INTERPOL operation which is now appealing for the public’s assistance.

Involving 34 countries, and targeting 203 fugitives, Operation Infra-SA (International Fugitive Round-Up and Arrest – South America) was launched by INTERPOL from its Regional Bureau in Buenos Aires on 14 March and has already led to the arrest or location of 21 individuals.

Co-ordinated by INTERPOL’s Fugitive Investigative Support (FIS) unit, the initial phase of the operation brought together investigators from the participating countries to directly share information on suspects who are believed to have fled to South America, many of whom have been on the run from justice for years.

Members of the public are now being asked to help provide information which can help police locate and arrest these internationally-wanted fugitives, with 20 Infra-SA targets specifically highlighted as part of the appeal to identify their whereabouts.

“Locating and arresting criminals is at the heart of INTERPOL’s work and previous Infra operations has shown the valuable role that the public can play in supporting the police take dangerous criminals off the streets,” said INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services Jean-Michel Louboutin.

“What is also clear from this operation is that no matter how long it takes, or where these criminals attempt to hide, law enforcement is committed to finding them and bringing them to justice,” added Mr Louboutin.

Among the key arrests already made through Infra-SA is that of Patrick Van Den Berg, wanted in connection with the murder of his wife and six-month-old baby in Bolivia in 2008, and also suspected of killing a woman in Chile. The 35-year-old Dutch national was taken into custody by police in Peru on 29 March and now awaits extradition.

 Other results since the launch of Operation Infra-SA include the arrest in Uruguay of Francisco Sebastian Silva Fernandez, wanted by Argentina for armed robbery, Clara and Caridad Guilarte, wanted by the US for fraud and money laundering arrested in Colombia where police also took into custody Jose Raul Marquez Restrepo wanted by Peru in connection with drug offences.

 A significant asset in Operation Infra-SA is the newly established Command and Co-ordination Centre (CCC) at INTERPOL’s Buenos Aires Regional Bureau, providing 24/7 police support capacity.

“It is essential that the National Central Bureaus and frontline police officers across the region get the information they need, when they need it, not only for operations such as Infra-SA, but for every day law enforcement work, and this is what the Regional Bureau provides on a 24-hour basis,“ said Rafael Pena, Acting Head of the Buenos Aires Regional Bureau.

“The physical and technical support provided by the Regional Bureau is an important factor in the ongoing successes of Operation Infra-SA and we are now calling on the public to make sure that we all see even better results.”

Information on the whereabouts of the targets of Operation Infra-SA or any internationally-wanted persons can be sent via email to INTERPOL’s fugitive unit.

Supported by US and Canadian authorities, the participating countries in Infra-SA are: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Operation Infra-SA builds on the success of INTERPOL’s Operation Infra-Red conducted in May 2010, a global operation targeting 450 fugitives worldwide and which resulted in the arrest and/or location of more than 170 individual wanted for a range of serious crimes.