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Monday, October 12, 2009

Crooks more high-tech than cops

SINGAPORE: Transnational crime syndicates are becoming stronger by exploiting technology, said officials at an Interpol conference here.

The syndicates are forging links with one another and taking advantage of insufficient co-ordination among the world’s police forces.

Delegates warned that law enforcement agencies must urgently boost the sharing of intelligence to fight criminals, who are increasingly in cahoots with terrorist networks including al-Qaida.

“It is fair to say that criminals are ahead of governments in exploiting the most advanced tools of globalisation,” such as international travel, banking and trade, US Deputy Attorney General David Ogden said.

“Criminals are at the most advanced stage of globalisation,” Ogden told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the conference organised by the United Nations and Interpol. “There is no question that we are behind and the power of these international criminals has grown.”

By one estimate, organised crime today comprises up to 15% of the global gross domestic product, Ogden said.

The Lyon, France-based Interpol was created in 1923 and is the world’s largest international police organisation with 187 member countries.

But it appears Interpol is behind in the fight against crime, thanks to insufficient co-operation among countries.

Part of the problem is corruption of police departments in many countries. Because of their shaky reputations, other countries are reluctant to share information with them.

“In order to share information you have to have confidence that it won’t be misused,” Ogden said.

Also, various law enforcement agencies — even within the same country — suffer from rivalries, resulting in information not being disseminated.

Examples of transnational crimes abound. Ogden cited an emblematic case disclosed last year — a racketeering enterprise in Romania that had joined forces with criminals around the world, including street gangs in Los Angeles, to use the Internet to defraud thousands of people and hundreds of financial institutions.

Those charged in the case operated from locations in the Canada, Pakistan, Portugal, Romania and the United States, and were citizens or permanent residents of Cambodia, Mexico, Pakistan, Romania, the United States and Vietnam. — AP

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