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800 arrested after FBI messaging app dupes organized crime gangs

The Hague / Some 800 alleged criminals were arrested in the biggest law enforcement operation against encrypted communication after being tricked into using an FBI messaging app, Europol said Tuesday.

The joint operation led by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Dutch National Police, the Swedish Police Authority in cooperation with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and support of Europol is “one of the largest and most sophisticated law enforcement operations to date,” according to Europol.

The FBI and Australian Federal Police have worked together since 2019 to develop their own encrypted device company called ANOM. The goal of the platform was to target global organized crime, drug trafficking and money laundering organizations across the world.

Organized crime groups gained confidence in using the FBI app after its use became common among senior gang leaders.

“ANOM grew to service more than 12,000 encrypted devices to over 300 criminal syndicates operating in more than 100 countries, including Italian organised crime, outlaw motorcycle gangs, and international drug trafficking organisations,” Europol said.

The operation, known as OTF Greenlight/Trohan Shield, executed a series of large-scale law enforcement actions in 16 countries and over 700 house searches.

As well as arresting some 800 alleged criminals, it seized over 8 tons of cocaine, 22 tons of cannabis, 250 firearms, 55 luxury cars and $48 million dollars in various worldwide currencies and cryptocurrencies.

“This operation is an exceptional success by the authorities in the United States, Sweden, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand and the other European members of the Operational Task Force,” Europol’s Deputy Executive Director Jean-Philippe Lecouffe said.

“I am very satisfied to see Europol supporting this operation and strengthen law enforcement partnerships by emphasizing the multi-agency aspect of the case,” he added. (June 8, 2021, EFE)

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