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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA —  Mr. Sonny Thompson, Commissioner of American Samoa; Chiefs and Commissioners of Pacific Islands; Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning, 탈로파(Talofa).

It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you today for the opening of the 48th Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police Conference. I wish to start by expressing my gratitude to the authorities of the American Samoa Government for their warm hospitality.

I would also like to thank the PICP for allowing me to be part of such a distinguished gathering, and address the leaders of policing in this unique part of the world.

The South Pacific is a key region for international law enforcement cooperation. And I am glad to recognize how much the engagement between agencies in the region and their partners abroad is progressing. Over the last two years, three new member countries from the region have joined the INTERPOL community.

Kiribati, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu joined the ranks to strengthen our international law enforcement cooperation network, with the overwhelming support of our Member Countries.

This is a great step forward.

Our global community needs the insights from the Pacific. The voice of the region, the voice of the police overseeing your jurisdictions, carries great value in obtaining a true, global operational picture in our efforts. In turn, frontline officers need a strong communication channel linking the nodes across this region, and beyond the Pacific throughout the globe.

Earlier this year, a Syrian national was arrested while attempting to enter the Philippines using a fake Kiribati passport, allegedly sold by a Jordanian national through a syndicate operating from Cambodia.

While just last week, six people have been arrested in Australia and New Zealand and a record 766kg of MDMA seized, in connection with a UK crime syndicate operating in the Pacific region. Let me congratulate Commissioner Colvin and Commissioner Bush for this success.

These stories vividly illustrate that crime knows no borders, and the Ocean is by no means an impenetrable defense against offenders. The rapidly growing issue of narcotics trafficking across the Pacific, which will be prominent in this event, is another stark reminder that no part of the world is sheltered from the ambitions of crime syndicates.

There is no doubt that Pacific Islands Countries face a unique set of challenges, caught in the midst of the Pacific highway between major suppliers of illicit goods; large demand hubs; and thousands of miles of coastline to monitor.

Where opportunities to generate criminal proceeds exist, criminal groups will strive to break into this space, and ultimately, take root. And in the process, transferring the technical skillsets developed abroad into the domestic theater.

This is especially true for drug production, where the same processes for the manufacturing of methamphetamines and synthetic opioids are regularly seen replicated across regions.

On every continent, criminals are constantly seeking to conduct their operations beyond administrative barriers, to exploit perceived vulnerabilities in our nets to evade detection and arrest, and where possible to use borders to their advantage. No distance is too great.

At the same time, some of the Pacific Islands are seeing the trans-shipment of narcotics through their territories devolve into a growing domestic demand for illicit drugs. No single police force can neutralize such transnational criminal threats without relying on solid, effective and trusting operational relationships with their counterparts across the border.

In this context, many more connections are waiting to be uncovered using police data generated here, in the Pacific.

This goes to the heart of INTERPOL's mission: building bridges between law enforcement agencies across the globe to empower your police forces in tackling common criminal drivers.

We provide our Member Countries with a common platform to circulate and search known modi operandi through our growing repository of Purple Notices. In the field, the trainings and operations we coordinate with our Member Countries help translate this investigative data into tangible outcomes. The global LIONFISH Operation held in September last year with some of the agencies represented here today resulted in 1,300 arrests, and seizures totaling 55 tons of illicit substances. Another such operation is set to be held in the South Pacific in the coming year.

In April, we inaugurated the new RELIEF database, which will assist in tracing compressed drugs deliveries to common shipments and routes, by matching tool-marks, logos and chemical compositions of drug packages.

These initiatives form part of the INTERPOL Model, designed with one objective in mind: to deliver actionable information to our Member Countries, and assist in interdicting those involved in transnational criminal activities.

Ladies and gentlemen, together, we can build solid bridges between the Pacific and the rest of the international police community. With nearly 100 million police records, INTERPOL databases are being queried at a rate of almost 300 searches per seconds. This includes many of the agencies represented here today, as well as your counterparts on all sides of the Pacific.

Pushing this data to the right place at the right time can make the difference between a successful arrest and a missed opportunity. As president of INTERPOL, I cannot overstate the importance of maintaining two-way streams of police information exchange across borders.

This starts by building strong and dynamic exchanges among close neighbors. Your presence here embodies this mindset. Nurturing cooperation across the region is one part of the solution. One that must be complemented by international information exchange in a region characterized by a large flow of international travelers, and witnessing growing cross-regional trafficking.

Success in thwarting regional security challenges resides in the national capability to maintain robust flows of police information.

In closing, I wish to reiterate INTERPOL's commitment to serving our member countries of the Pacific, through their National Central Bureaus, to advance the security imperatives of the region. We should explore together how INTERPOL and your police forces can engage more closely, through our Member Countries, and through regional mechanisms such as the PICP.

I am eager for this Conference to openly discuss the challenges that your agencies face, and explore concrete outcomes for the way forward. This is how we will work towards our shared vision for a safer Pacific, and a safer world.

Thank you, 파아테타이(Fa'afetai), 감사합니다.