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Interpol Turns to Internet for Info on Most-wanted Suspects

If you're on Facebook or MySpace then you're wanted by Interpol -- to help in a hunt for the international police organization's most-wanted fugitives.

Interpol stepped up its search for 450 people convicted of, or suspected of, offenses including murder, drug trafficking and child sexual abuse on Monday, launching a public appeal for help on its Web site.

The search began in early May when investigators from around the world met at Interpol's headquarters in Lyon, France, to pool information on some of their most difficult cases. The catchily titled Operation Infra-Red 2010 (for International Fugitive Round-Up and Arrest -- Red Notices) has helped, but not as much as Interpol would have liked. Two months after investigators began their exchanges, just 107 of the 450 targets have been arrested or located.

"What we are now left with are the cases where we have no new information on their whereabouts," said Operation Infra-Red coordinator Martin Cox, assistant director of Interpol's Fugitive Investigative Support unit, in a press release posted at the organization's Web site.

The operation is due to end on July 16, prompting Interpol to call on Internet users to join the hunt for the 343 suspects and criminals still at large. The organization particularly wants social network users to help.

"It's more likely that someone will recognize one of these fugitives from a social networking site or a chat room than spot them walking down the street," Cox said.

Interpol particularly wants information on the whereabouts of 26 suspects on its list. Some of those sought have been on the run since the 1990s.

Interpol member states taking part in Operation Infra-Red also have their own targets, with Bangladesh, Belarus and Lithuania listing the most suspects.

Some of those arrested to date had not flown far: Colombian model Angie Sanclemente Valencia was arrested on May 26 in Argentina, where she was wanted for drug trafficking.

The arrest of suspected currency counterfeiter Mouamba Munanga of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on the other hand, demonstrated Interpol's international reach: wanted by French and Bahraini police for money laundering and counterfeiting, Munanga was arrested in South Africa on June 16.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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