POND ISLAND – The International Police Organization (INTERPOL) recently carried out a successful law enforcement coordinated Operation Libertad project to combat human trafficking in the Caribbean.
More than 500 police officers in 13 countries including from Aruba and Curacao, took part in the operation that led to the apprehension of 22 individuals.
Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever said on Thursday that he commends the INTERPOL coordinated operation for its success and pointed out to the importance of cooperation and collaboration.
INTERPOL reported that nearly 350 potential victims of sexual exploitation and forced labour were rescued in the Caribbean, Central and South America.
“Cooperation is essential among law enforcement partners within the Kingdom and within the Region. Law enforcement entities are doing invaluable work to bring human trafficking crimes to justice, and at the same time, standing up for the rights and interests of the victims who have been taken advantage of.
“As countries we must continue to take steps to forge and to strengthen partnerships across the Kingdom, within the Region and across international borders. Such partnership and cooperation can be seen in the success of Operation Libertad,” Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever said on Thursday.
In addition to coordinated police raids, searches were carried out against INTERPOL’s criminal databases, generating 30 hits, including 25 for Stolen and Lost Travel Documents. Computer equipment, mobiles phones and cash were also seized.
Both men and women, including minors, were discovered working in night clubs, farms, mines, factories and open-air markets.
To ensure victims received the necessary care following their rescue, social services and NGOs were involved in conducting post-operation interviews and providing support services to victims.
The operation was the culmination of the two-and-a-half year project funded by the Government of Canada, which provided specialized training to investigators and immigration officers in order to enhance operational expertise and regional coordination to combat human trafficking.
Participating countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Curacao, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands and Venezuela.
The Joint Regional Communications Centre (JRCC) in Barbados hosted the operational coordination centre, with specialist officers from INTERPOL’s Trafficking in Human Beings unit deployed to the region.
Support was provided by the INTERPOL Command and Coordination Centre at the General Secretariat in Lyon, France and at the INTERPOL Regional Bureau in Buenos Aires, Argentina.