Interpol on Thursday elected a French police commissioner known for her drive against organised crime in Bordeaux and Corsica as its first female president at its general assembly in Rome.
"Mireille Balestrazzi of France becomes first woman to be elected president of Interpol," the world's top association of crime-fighters said on Twitter.
Balestrazzi, 58, became a police commissioner in France in 1975 and was already vice-president for Europe on Interpol's executive committee.
She is particularly well known for her time as director of judicial police in Corsica in the 1990s at a time of fierce turf wars on the island.
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who attended the Interpol assembly earlier this week, said Balestrazzi was "a great police woman."
"She is one of the women who are the pride of the French police," he said.
Valls said her experience with organised crime would serve her well in fighting drug trafficking, mafias from southern and eastern Europe as well as growing political violence that requires a coordinated international response.