Hundreds arrested for global organized crime using FBI-developed messaging app

Hundreds of suspects have been arrested and large amounts of drugs have been confiscated in one of the largest and most sophisticated global law enforcement activities to date.

In a series of large-scale sting operations in 16 countries over the past few days, European law enforcement agencies, along with the FBI and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), have arrested more than 800 people and released more than 32 tons of drugs. Seized. In addition to primarily cannabis and cocaine, it contains 6 tons of synthetic drug precursors and over $ 48 million in currencies and cryptocurrencies, Europol said in a release.

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In a photo of this dateless handout, released June 8, 2021, the suspect was detained by Australian police for stabbing an organized crime. (Distribution via Australian Federal Police / Reuters)

The operation, called the Greenlight / Trojan Shield, is expected to lead to “countless spin-off operations” in the coming weeks, which could lead to more seizures and arrests, Europol said.

“This operation is an extraordinary success by the authorities of the United States, Sweden, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand and other European members of the Operation Task Force,” Europol’s Deputy Secretary-General Jean-Philippe Lukhu said in a statement. ..

The operation relied on an encrypted messaging app called ANOM, developed by the FBI in close collaboration with the Australian Federal Police. Its purpose was to target global organized crime, drug trafficking and money laundering activities. Over time, ANOM has been servicing over 12,000 encrypted devices and is used by members of over 300 criminal syndicates operating in over 100 countries.

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A photo of this dateless handout, released June 8, 2021, shows the Australian Federal Police during an operation against organized crime. (Distribution via Australian Federal Police / Reuters)

The FBI, along with institutions from 16 other member states of the Union, used information from approximately 27 million messages obtained from ANOM surveillance to “discuss criminal users about their criminal activity.” ..

In developing the messaging platform, the FBI has taken advantage of the great demand for encrypted communication platforms among criminal networks to facilitate criminal activity. After law enforcement dismantled two encrypted messaging platforms popular with members of criminal gangs in 2020 and 2021, many moved to FBI-developed messaging apps.

“The goal of the new platform is to target organized crime, drug trafficking, and money laundering organizations, regardless of where they were active, and to provide encrypted devices with the capabilities that organized crime networks demand. It was. Persuading the criminal network to shift its focus to devices, “Europole said.

The high-quality information gathered through ANOM is expected to continue to help law enforcement agencies identify high-value crime targets operating on a global scale, the agency said.

“Encrypted crime communications platforms have traditionally been a tool to circumvent law enforcement and foster cross-border organized crime. The FBI and our international partners have overcome these challenges and have overcome these challenges. We continue to develop innovative ways to bring criminals to justice, “said Calvin A. Shivers, Deputy Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division, in a statement.

In a media briefing, Kershaw said, “We’re behind organized crime.” They’re talking about drugs, violence, beating each other, and innocent people being killed. is”

He said the message was brazen and ANOM users didn’t try to hide behind any kind of code.

“Let’s meet on a speedboat at this point,” “it’s this person who does this,” and so on, he added.

One murder plan known to the authorities included a plan to attack the cafe with a machine gun, targeting a family of five. Authorities say they were able to prevent these attacks.

A total of 525 charges have been filed, but authorities expect more in the coming weeks.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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