PARIS, July 5, 2010 -- Interpol, the world's largest international police organization with 188 member countries, issued an unusual appeal today. It asked the general public around the world to help provide information on 26 international fugitives who are suspected of, or have been convicted of, such offences as murder, child sexual abuse, rape and drug trafficking.
Interpol launched operation Infra-Red -- short for International Fugitive Round-Up and Arrest–Red Notices -- May 3, targeting 450 fugitives. So far, more than 110 people on this wanted list have been arrested or located worldwide as a result of this operation.
"The operation has been very successful," Martin Cox, assistant director of Interpol's Fugitive Investigative Support unit, told ABC News by phone from Interpol's headquarters in Lyon, France, where 50 investigators from 29 countries share information on these wanted persons, some of whom have been sought for many years.
But the 26 cases for which Interpol has sought the public's assistance "are cases for which we have almost reached an impasse in the actual investigation from what we can do from a police point of view," Cox said. "Now, we're trying to see if the public can help by providing new leads to find these people.
"It's the first time that we've put together such a large group of fugitives and asked the public's assistance in finding them," he said.
People can consult Red Notices, an international wanted persons alert on the Interpol public website and send in tips.
To date, new information, including possible locations, travel document data, photographs, fingerprints and telephone numbers, on more than 300 Infra-Red fugitives has been shared with Interpol, the organization announced in a statement.
Arrests in Argentina, Congo as Part of Operation Infra-Red
Interpol hopes the general public will recognize these fugitives on social networking sites such as Facebook, or meet them in a chat room. "Nowadays, it's very easy to meet people on the Internet. But they could meet them anywhere, on a street, in a local bar, at their local golf club, just anywhere," Cox said.
Interpol has released their photos and biographical information on its website.
Key arrests so far include former Colombian model Angie Sanclemente Valencia, wanted by Argentina for drug trafficking, who was taken into custody May 26.
Mouamba Munanga, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was arrested in South Africa June 16. He was wanted by France and Bahrain for counterfeiting currency, criminal association and money laundering.
Twenty-five-year-old American fugitive Christopher Ward Deininger, a convicted serial pedophile, is also one of Interpol's 26. "Between 1997 and 2000, while employed as a babysitter, Deininger committed multiple sexual acts on girls aged between one and eight years old. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 years probation. In 2005, Deininger left the facility where he had been court-ordered to reside and fled the United States," according to Interpol's Infra-Red "Wanted" poster on its website.
"It is the kind of person who could still be committing crimes against children, and that's why we desperately want to find him," Cox said. "He was last seen in Switzerland in 2005. We believe he is still in Europe, probably in France or Italy, where his father used to work and where he went to school."
Five other Americans are also part of Interpol's Intra-Red operation.
People with information can send it to email@example.com, or provide it anonymously to national Crime Stoppers programs at www.csiworld.org.