“A criminal pandemic”

Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock on criminal threats and effective responses during the coronavirus pandemic.

The German Jürgen Stock has been Interpol's Secretary General since 2014
The German Jürgen Stock has been Interpol's Secretary General since 2014 INTERPOL

Interpol is the largest international police organization in the world. Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock explains in an interview how it is being challenged by criminals during the coronavirus pandemic.

Secretary General Stock, how are criminals exploiting the coronavirus pandemic?

COVID-19 has provided criminals with unprecedented opportunities which they have not hesitated to take, indeed we have seen a parallel crime pandemic spread around the world. There has been a significant increase of cyberthreats such as malware and ransomware as well as the sale of fake and counterfeit products linked to the pandemic such as personal protective equipment and medicines. As vaccination programmes are being rolled out around the world, we are now seeing criminal organizations manufacturing and distributing fake vaccines. Interpol recently assisted in dismantling one such network. We are receiving an increasing number of reports of fake vaccine certificates and negative test results around the world, both physical and adverts on the darknet.

Drug dealers use food delivery services to transport drugs during lockdowns.

Jürgen Stock, Secretary General of Interpol

How is Interpol fighting crime during the pandemic?

We have provided a wide range of support to law enforcement in our 194 member countries to help them deal with crime types linked to the pandemic, and advice to the public on how to stay safe. These include threat assessments on crimes linked to COVID-19 including financial fraud, terrorism and migrant smuggling and human trafficking as well as alerts on new modus operandi, such as drug dealers using food delivery services to transport drugs during lockdowns. We also produced international guidelines to enhance the safety and effectiveness of law enforcement and first responder support during the pandemic. Alerts from our Cybercrime unit enabled several member countries to successfully detect and prevent cyberattacks against healthcare institutions and other medical industry bodies.

Founded in 1923, Interpol is one of the world’s largest organisations, with 194 member countries. You are currently working on the I-CORE (INTERPOL Capabilities for Operational Relevance) modernisation project. What are your objectives?

Interpol plays a crucial role in police cooperation. The I-CORE programme will ensure we can continue to meet our member country needs in the future, and will focus on three main areas: Biometrics to assist the secure, accurate and automated identification of criminals; new structured message formats to improve the consistency of information exchanged and the speed of follow-up; and a Unified Information Architecture so investigators can check all Interpol databases at once instead of carrying out multiple searches. Germany was the first country to step up and provide funding for I-CORE with the Federal Government contributing EUR 5 million. We are extremely grateful for this support and hope that other countries will follow its lead.


Jürgen Stock, born in 1959 in Wetzlar, worked as a criminal police officer, lawyer and university professor. In 2004, he became Vice President of the Federal Criminal Police Office BKA and since 2014 he has been Secretary General of Interpol.

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