This week, I received a post idea from Rutsel Silvestre J. Martha, of Lindeborg Counsellors at Law. Mr. Martha is a highly respected expert on international law and his 2010 book, The Legal Foundations of INTERPOL, was one of my earliest sources of instruction regarding all things INTERPOL when I began this area of practice over a decade ago.

In response to a post on the numerous ways in which an individual might catch the attention of INTERPOL, he suggested that I explain how the FIND and MIND databases work, which would in turn explain how even a traffic stop can lead to an arrest. Mr. Martha’s idea is a good one, because many Red Notice subjects are actually law-abiding people, and the way that most law-abiding individuals come into contact with law enforcement officials is through routine traffic stops.

FIND and MIND are acronyms for Mobile INTERPOL Network Database (MIND) and the Fixed INTERPOL Network Database (FIND). These databases were implemented in 2005. They facilitate searches of people, motor vehicles, and documents at international transit or other points. FIND provides access to an active online database, and MIND provides access to an offline database, which is periodically downloaded in an updated form every 24 to 48 hours.

The databases can be accessed by officials at the border or in the field, which makes it easier for officers on the road (see second photo under 2005) to know when they have encountered a person who is wanted by INTERPOL.

In addition to aiding in the detection of Red Notice subjects, the MIND/FIND databases also seem to bear a relationship to decreased terrorist attacks in the countries that utilize them. The databases have been the subjects of several academic studies, including a 2015 study published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. This study, conducted by Javier Gardeazabal and Todd Sandler,  found that countries that had implemented the FIND/MIND databases also experienced a comparatively fewer transnational terrorist attacks.

An earlier study showed that the initial cost for the databases was inexpensive relative to the value of the service provided, but not all eligible countries participated. Simultaneously, some countries that were initially not expected to utilize the service, such as Bosnia/Herzegovina, Syria, Guatemala, and the Russian Federation, did implement them.  Some of those countries received external funding support for the databases, and that may have played a role in their decision to utilize MIND/FIND.

The use of the FIND/MIND system allows officers to look up an individual’s information without having to go directly to an I-24/7 portal or involve the country’s National Central Bureau in the query, which obviously saves time for local police departments. This allows the more ready access to INTERPOL’s system that could result in a routine traffic stop becoming a Red Notice “hit.”

Thanks to Mr. Martha for his suggestion. As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.