Interpol says it's seeking public help to track down 123 suspected human traffickers

LYON (AFP) - Interpol said on Thursday (June 23) it is seeking public help to track down 123 suspected human traffickers wanted around the world.

The largest international police organisation put out the public appeal from its base in Lyon, France, in a bid to bring the remaining fugitives to justice.

"People smuggling is a global issue which is why international cooperation through operations such as Hydra are essential," said Interpol's director of Operational Support Michael O'Connell in a statement announcing the programme's launch.

The operation, known as Infra Hydra, involves 44 countries as well as the EU police agency Europol, and has already made 26 arrests and located 31 other suspects, Interpol said.

Interpol identified 11 targets on its most sought-after list and is focusing on a total of 180 fugitives wanted by 31 countries.

Operation Hydra seeks to foster an exchange of information on the networks of smugglers and expedite investigators' work.

Anyone with information on the traffickers' possible location should contact their local police or Interpol's Fugitive Investigative Support unit, the statement said.

Interpol did not provide a timeline for its operation or the resources it would need to expand.

"The criminal networks involved have no regard for the safety or wellbeing of the people using their illegal services, they are just another commodity for them to trade, as we have seen with tragic results around the world," Mr O'Connell said.

Over 800,000 migrants fleeing war, persecution and hardship in the Middle East and Asia landed on the Greek islands from Turkey in 2015. Most continued on to northern Europe.

More than 10,000 have perished in the Mediterranean since 2014 while trying to reach Europe.