Strengthening border controls, including port security in strategic locations, was the overall aim of Operation Anchor, led by INTERPOL.
This practical exercise was the culmination of a series of training courses for first responders and investigators responsible for preventing and combating various forms of maritime crime.
Law enforcement agencies in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam worked together to locate and intercept individuals and groups responsible for cross-border crimes including people smuggling, human trafficking, robbery at sea, hijacking and kidnap for ransom, firearms trafficking and the smuggling of illicit goods.
Southeast Asia is a major hub for seaborne trade, with a large number of shipping companies vulnerable to maritime crimes in the region. Against this backdrop, Operation Anchor carried out sea patrols, inspected vessels, goods and crews, and screened passengers and their passports.
Strong collaboration between the police, navy, coast guard, immigration, customs and other maritime units in all four participating countries resulted in a number of arrests and seizures:
- 3 tons of listed marine species seized
- 14 vessels engaged in illegal fishing seized
- suspects in 3 drug trafficking attempts arrested
- 2 cases of smuggling contraband discovered
- 18 suspects arrested for various transnational cases.
The operation also paved the way for the rescue of five victims of human trafficking onboard a vessel in Taganak Island, Philippines.”op anchor”
The exercise generated more than 6.5 million searches against INTERPOL databases, with 10 confirmed hits on Red Notices (international alerts for wanted persons), stolen and lost travel documents, and diffusions. Most of the subjects were either prevented from boarding their flights or were sent to alternative airports for follow up action.
Eight border management kits were deployed including a forensic tool, called Seek Avenger, which was sent out in the Philippines to assist maritime units in conducting random checks of individuals at sea.