UAE plays role as hundreds arrested in Interpol anti-trafficking operation

Operation Liberterra led to detention of 286 people, with an operations room in Abu Dhabi contributing to global mission to tackle gangs

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The UAE has played a role in a major Interpol operation to tackle human trafficking around the world, leading to hundreds of arrests.

An operations room in Abu Dhabi and UAE personnel took part in the campaign against migrant smuggling and trafficking gangs that led to 286 arrests globally.

Interpol said authorities rescued about 430 human trafficking victims and identified 4,000 irregular migrants originating from 74 countries. Many of them required medical, psychological and housing assistance and were taken into the care of protective services.

“Operation Liberterra is a five-day snapshot of the global trafficking and smuggling situation, and how multinational, highly organised criminal networks only focus on one thing: profit,” said Interpol secretary general Jurgen Stock.

“With 22 criminal groups dismantled, it also shows what co-ordinated, global law enforcement action can achieve.”

  • Algerian authorities dismantled a smuggling group focusing on maritime routes to European coasts.
  • Colombia dismantled two different criminal organisations, making 22 arrests. While one group was dedicated to smuggling migrants to the US, the other group focused on bringing Cuban and Haitian migrants from Ecuador into Colombia. In addition, two subjects of Interpol Red Notices wanted internationally by Spain for human trafficking were arrested.
  • Authorities in Ecuador arrested eight suspects who smuggled migrants to the US using a legitimate travel agency as a cover to book flights via Mexico.
  • Officers in Ghana intercepted two Nigerian suspects accused of running a human trafficking ring between Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria.
  • Six members of an organised crime group were arrested in North Macedonia. The leader had been working with associates in the Middle East to smuggle migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Syria to Greece.
  • Authorities in Sudan rescued 253 victims of human trafficking, arresting 32 suspects.
  • An organised crime group based in Spain which smuggled migrants by sea from Algeria to the Spanish coast was dismantled.

Lt Col Dana Humaid, from the Ministry of Interior, said UAE law enforcement officials were able to support Interpol in the successful operation.

“The UAE has been an active player in the campaign against human trafficking, and firmly believes in the importance of strong national as well as international efforts to combat human trafficking,” Lt Col Humaid said on Monday.

"Interpol and the international co-operation which underpins it, is one of the key ways we will beat these transnational criminal threats."

Ilana De Wild, Interpol’s director of organised and emerging crime, thanked the UAE for its role in the mission.

“UAE is one of the driving forces in the operation,” she said.

“When it comes to the fight [against] organised crime like trafficking of humans, there were impressive results from the operation. Establishing three coordination units across the world helped in the operation.”

Updated: July 26, 2021, 2:11 PM