INTERPOL recently held a training session for specialist officers from across Africa to enhance theirs firearms investigation capabilities to track and identify criminals behind poaching and related crimes.
The Firearms Programme Policing Capabilities for Investigating Environmental Crime workshop focused on the challenges posed by illegal firearms trafficking in relation to wildlife crime in national parks, reserves and other wildlife sanctuaries.
The four-day session – held from June 6 – 9, 2017 – was supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) and the European Union with participants drawn from the following countries: Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
With one of the nine participating countries having seized more than 3,000 firearms between 2012 and 2016, including many linked to poaching, the working group addressed the importance of tracing illicit firearms and using ballistic evidence in wildlife crime investigations.
Participants were trained in using the INTERPOL Illicit Arms Records and tracing Management System (iARMS), which assists with information exchange and cooperation between law enforcement officers. Through the iARMS, law enforcement officers can link a suspect to a firearm in a criminal investigation; identify potential firearm traffickers; detect firearm crime trends; and support targeted intelligence-led police operations aimed at curbing the firearms supply to terrorist networks and violent individuals.
The training included practical exercises on firearms tracing as an investigative lead generator using iARMS and promoting evidence sharing using the INTERPOL Ballistic Information Network (IBIN), which is the only large-scale international ballistic data sharing network in the world.
Other modules also covered a range of INTERPOL capabilities including the ‘Firearms Recovery Protocol’, ‘Indicators of Firearms Trafficking’ and ‘Interviews following Firearms Recovery’.
Then this week, INTERPOL held its first course to train wildlife crime investigators on how to extract and analyse data from seized electronic devices.
With an increasing amount of digital evidence recovered during wildlife crime investigations, the training also equipped participants with the skills to identify and securely handle devices which could potentially contain data of interest for a criminal investigation.
The three-day training session – held from June 28 – 30, 2017 – was run by INTERPOL’s Environmental Security Programme in collaboration with the Digital Forensics Lab at the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation brought together 20 specialist officers from 10 countries across Asia.
In recent months, INTERPOL has already provided assistance to several countries in extracting and analysing data from phones seized as part of national investigations into wildlife trafficking.
The training is part of INTERPOL’s ongoing commitment to ensure law enforcement officers have the knowledge and skills to keep up with the criminal use of digital tools in the illegal trafficking of wildlife, including via online platforms and on the Darknet.
Ten countries were represented during the training session which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAid), Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.