Hundreds of people were arrested in different parts of the world in a massive one operation against organized crime, thanks to police infiltration of an app used to exchange coded messages between criminals. This was announced today by the Australian Federal Police.
The operation was carried out in several countries of Europe, the United States, Australia and New Zealand and has managed to decrypt in real time and for three years thousands of encrypted communications within criminal networks of all kinds.
The New Zealand police for its part described the operation as “the most sophisticated in the world against organized crime that has been carried out by the police to date”. This massive interception of messages was made possible by an application called ANoM, which criminals around the world used to communicate in an encrypted way but which was actually controlled by the FBI, the American federal police.
These messages specifically concerned assassination projects and drug and arms trafficking, Australian police said, who arrested 224 people in all parts of the country. And other “hundreds of people have been arrested” outside Australia, the same source added. The New Zealand police have announced the arrest of 35 people, amid drug trafficking and money laundering.
The ANoM application was installed on cell phones which, lacking any other functionality, were traded on the black market. Such a phone can only communicate with another phone containing the application.
“A criminal had to know another criminal to obtain this material,” Australian police explained. “The devices circulated and their popularity grew among criminals, who had faith in the legitimacy of the application because the main figures of organized crime guaranteed its integrity,” he added.
“These criminal influencer they put the Australian Federal Police in the pockets of hundreds of suspected offenders, “Australian Police Chief Reece Kershaw said.
“Basically, they handcuffed each other by hugging and trusting ANoM and communicating openly with it, not knowing we were listening to them all the time,” he added. The operation was code-named ‘Ironside’ in Australia and ‘Trojan Shield’ worldwide.
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