Global concerns regarding border control, illicit immigration, the drug trade, money laundering, crimes reliant on advanced border-crossing technologies, and terrorism have driven the development of international police work.
To structure police cooperation on a global, multilateral scale, a number of apolitical law enforcement organizations have been established. Among these are Interpol and Europol.
Interpol is the largest law enforcement agency on the globe. Its primary functions include international police cooperation, crime control, and global assistance to law enforcement agencies.
It was founded in 1923 and had its headquarters in Lyon, France, along with seven Regional Bureaus (R.B.s) and 194 National Central Bureaus (NCBs) worldwide.
Its centralized database of criminal records includes biometric records, DNA samples, and stolen documents. This is a treasure repository for law enforcement, who consult Interpol’s databases 146 times per second.
The organization also issues alerts to member states regarding missing or sought individuals. There have been Red Notices for refugees escaping war-torn nations.
The Command and Coordination Center of INTERPOL is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It supports law enforcement officials in the field with emergency support and operational activities, particularly in its priority crime areas of fugitives, public safety and terrorism, drugs and organized crime, human trafficking, and financial and high-tech crime.
ILEA is an international law enforcement agency that trains local police in counterterrorism, narcotics interdiction, fraudulent document detection, and border control procedures. Founded in Budapest, Hungary, in 1995 and now expanding to Bangkok, Thailand; Gaborone, Botswana; and El Salvador, the program is led by the FBI and is staffed by instructors from various U.S. agencies.
Proponents of ILEA say that the training enables participating nations to improve their domestic police practices and encourages international police cooperation. They attribute the success of the ILEA to increased efficiency and decreased corruption among foreign police officers.
Critics worry that ILEA-South will provide training to Latin American military officials who may be violating Costa Rica’s constitutionally-mandated neutrality and could be engaging in human rights abuses. They call on the U.S. to apply the “Leahy Law” and require that all units receiving funding for ILEA-South undergo vetting by the United States Department of State.
The Office of International Affairs (OIA) is DOJ’s nerve centre for international criminal law enforcement coordination. OIA works with domestic partners and foreign counterparts to return fugitives to face justice, transfer sentenced persons to serve their sentences in their home countries, and obtain essential evidence for criminal investigations and prosecutions worldwide.
OIA is a force multiplier that builds successful cases and holds criminals accountable. Its staff is comprised of experienced professionals, including many former federal and state prosecutors. Its teams are specialized in a range of policy, legislative, and litigation issues concerning international criminal investigation and prosecution.
Legal Attaches are FBI agents assigned to countries around the world, where they build relationships with principal law enforcement, intelligence and security services to ensure a prompt and continuous exchange of information. These relationships help protect Americans both abroad and at home.
International Operations Division at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. manages Legal Attache programs and maintains liaison with Interpol, foreign security service officers and police stationed in Washington, and national and international law enforcement associations.
The purpose of the Legal Attache program is to fulfil the FBI’s responsibilities regarding organized crime, international terrorism, and foreign counterintelligence by establishing and maintaining relationships with the principal law enforcement authorities and security services in designated foreign countries. This enables the FBI to meet its responsibilities effectively and expeditiously while ensuring that the host country’s national sovereignty is respected.
Typical responsibilities include coordinating requests for FBI or host country assistance overseas; conducting investigations in coordination with the host government; sharing investigative leads and information; briefing embassy counterparts from other agencies, including law enforcement, as appropriate, and ambassadors; managing country clearances; providing situation reports pertaining to cultural protocol; assessing political and security climates; and coordinating victim and human rights documentation.