Stock photo

Victims of human trafficking, the children were rescued through intense cooperation between national police authorities’ INTERPOL desks in Argentina, Chile and Peru.

On 8 January, an officer from Peru’s INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) in Lima received a message from a counterpart at NCB Buenos Aires requesting assistance in locating a 16-year-old Argentine girl missing from home and thought to be in the Peruvian capital. The girl, referred to by her initials, JFA, was subject to an INTERPOL Yellow Notice – a global police alert for missing persons.

In the following days, NCB Lima’s fugitive search team worked the case, exchanging key information with NCB Buenos Aires through INTERPOL’s secure police communications network I-24/7. By 12 January, the team had tracked the girl’s whereabouts to two districts in the north of the city: Los Olivos and San Martin de Porres.

The next day, the fugitives team spotted JFA walking with an older woman along a central avenue in San Martin de Porres. Several hours later, officers from NCB Lima and the National Police’s labour exploitation department were deployed alongside a provincial prosecutor and rescued her. The older woman with her was taken into custody and later charged with human trafficking.

Rescued the same day

The day after police efforts to locate and rescue JFA began in Peru, NCB Lima was contacted about a second missing teenager case – this time by the National Police’s missing persons division – concerning a 13-year-old Peruvian girl known by the initials MAVN. NCB Lima was asked to request that an INTERPOL Yellow Notice be issued for the girl, who was thought to be located abroad.

Published by the INTERPOL General Secretariat the same day, NCB Lima then sent a message through I-24/7 to NCBs in other South American countries making them aware of the Yellow Notice and requesting assistance in locating MAVN.

A possible lead soon arrived from Chile. In a phone call, Maximiliano Macnamara Valderrama, the Head of NCB Santiago, informed Carlos Roque Palomino, his counterpart at NCB Lima, of unconfirmed reports that MAVN could be located in a shelter housing Venezuelan migrants in Iquique (Chile). Mr Roque Palomino asked NCB Santiago to investigate and confirm the information.

On 13 January, the same day JFA was located in San Martin de Porres, NCB Lima received a message from NCB Santiago requesting any biometric information that would allow the Chilean police to identify MAVN. Photos, fingerprints and other intelligence relating to the case was sent through I-24/7 within hours and, by that evening, NCB Santiago confirmed that MAVN had been identified and rescued. Now, she is back with her mother in Peru.

“The speed of international police cooperation between INTERPOL member countries is the perfect combination for the timely rescue of victims of human trafficking,” said Carlos Roque Palomino, Head of NCB Lima.

“Thanks to INTERPOL capabilities like Yellow Notices and the I-24/7 secure communications network, we can ensure that human trafficking and migrant smuggling across borders will not prevent criminals from being brought to justice and that no amount of distance will prevent a missing or lost person from being brought back home,” Mr Roque Palomino added.

“Every day, INTERPOL NCBs are accomplishing vital police work that saves lives, protects the most vulnerable and tangibly makes the world safer,” said Stephen Kavanagh, Executive Director of Police Services at INTERPOL. “Our duty at the INTERPOL General Secretariat is to continue ensuring that the tools and services we offer our member countries are as relevant as possible to their mission.”

INTERPOL’s specialized unit on migrant smuggling and human trafficking is currently following-up on these cases directly with the relevant NCBs to provide further investigative support.

INTERPOL Yellow Notices are issued to help locate missing persons, often minors. Last year, the INTERPOL General Secretariat issued more than 2,500 Yellow Notices.