June 4, 2012 1:36 pm
Updated: March 13, 2013 3:51 pm

Interpol: on the cutting edge of policing?

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TORONTO – It didn’t take long for Interpol to get the word out that Luka Rocco Magnotta, the suspect in the killing and dismemberment of a Chinese student in Montreal, was arrested by police in Berlin.

Magnotta was spotted entering an Internet café on Karl Marx Strasse by someone who then notified police. Within half an hour, Magnotta was in police custody.

“Magnotta’s arrest demonstrates the benefits of Interpol’s worldwide network of National Central Bureaus sharing information on dangerous fugitives believed to have fled abroad,” Stefano Carvelli, the head of Interpol’s Fugitives unit said in a news release.

“Police know that the best way to catch fugitives anywhere in the world is to use Interpol’s tools and services.” 

While Interpol is a global police organization, it doesn’t operate the way you think it might – especially if you’ve watched a lot of movies involving international jewel heists, museum robberies or cat burglars.

There is no army of Interpol officers swooping down on suspects and carting them off to an Interpol jail.

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The organization helps police from different countries cooperate – even if those countries do not have diplomatic relations.

Interpol has been a global police organization since 1923 when it was established as the International Criminal Police Commission by founding members Poland, Austria, Belgium, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, and Yugoslavia.

It was headquartered in Vienna and became a tool of Nazi Germany in 1938, when Germany annexed Austria.

After the Second World War, the organization was revived as the International Criminal Police Organization. Its headquarters was moved to a town near Paris.

Today, Interpol is the second-largest international organization behind the United Nations, with 190 member countries.

Its constitution prohibits Interpol from getting involved in any politically-motivated activity.

“Action is taken within the limits of existing laws in different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Our Constitution prohibits ‘any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character,'” Interpol says on its website.

Interpol issued a Red Notice for Magnotta on May 31. The organization’s Red Notices let police forces around the world know that a person is wanted by a member country.

They also request that the suspect be placed under provisional arrest pending extradition. The rest of us can find those Red Notices on Interpol’s website.

Magnotta was arrested after a member of the public alerted police that someone he recognized as Magnotta from pictures he had seen on the Internet had just entered an Internet cafe in Berlin.

Those pictures were all over social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and news sites on the web.

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