Due to the increasingly international nature of crime, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has developed its international presence to detect and deter crime at its point of origin, before it reaches Australia.
As of 30 June 2018, the AFP had 248 personnel located in 33 countries around the world other than Australia and its territories.
In its 2017-18 report, the AFP provides an insight into its international operations.
Why does the AFP target international crime?
It is estimated that around 70 per cent of Australia’s serious criminal targets live or have links overseas. Key international threats exist in a range of areas including drug trafficking, human trafficking, cybercrime and terrorism.
Some of the AFP’s most significant achievements in combating international crime relate to preventing drug trafficking into Australia, protecting children, delivering capability development overseas, setting up international posts and participating in joint task forces to enhance cooperation with foreign law enforcement.
Preventing drug trafficking into Australia
Effective international cooperation and operations have allowed for successful seizure of drug shipments before they enter Australia. In 2017–18, International Operations contributed to 165 offshore disruptions, of which 26% were related to drug trafficking.
Through information sharing with overseas law enforcement partners, there has been a significant reduction in the number of sex offenders being allowed to travel to high-risk destinations such as Bali.
In June 2018, four children were rescued from significant harm in the Philippines following intelligence and capability collaboration between the AFP and local police.
This cooperation included AFP officers located in Manila educating local law enforcement officers on social media exploitation.
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum
The Australian Government has a partnership with Papua New Guinea (PNG) to assist in the development of PNG’s law and justice sector. The AFP has supported this whole-of-Government approach by supporting PNG in planning, preparing and delivering the APEC Forum in November 2018.
In October 2017, the AFP established a liaison post in Mexico City to enhance international law enforcement collaboration on the movement of illicit drugs. This has already produced significant results, leading to the seizure of more than 1.4 tonnes of cocaine before it reached Australia.
Joint Task Forces
Joint task forces and multi-jurisdictional investigations have been successful in disrupting international criminal supply chains and stopping illicit drugs from entering Australia.
Taskforce Blaze, a joint task force between the AFP and the Chinese National Narcotics Control Commission, was established in 2015. It has since led to the seizure of 19 tonnes of drugs and precursor chemicals in China and Australia.
The value of coordinated approaches to disrupting criminal activity affecting Australia and China was enhanced through the signing of a joint agency agreement on economic crime and the extension of the joint statement of intent focusing on combating transnational crime and enhancing police cooperation.