It should have been an impenetrable tool used by the underworld to plan their crimes, it turned out to be a Trojan horse that allowed law enforcement to arrest hundreds of people and seize tens of tons of drugs. All thanks to an app, known as AnoM, used by organized gangs around the world to send and receive encrypted messages and exchange information on murders to be carried out, on how to launder dirty money or trade drugs. Messages which, however, were also intercepted by the police.
The operation, called Ironside, started three years ago and dealt “a severe blow to organized crime, not only in this country”, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, but “all over the world”. Yes, because the police forces of several states have collaborated in the investigation, including the US FBI, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the New Zealand law enforcement agencies, as well as Europol (European Police Office).
224 arrests were made in Australia alone. In handcuffs ended up being members of gangs of motorcyclists, men linked to the mafia (apparently also linked to the Italian one), belonging to Middle Eastern and European criminal organizations as well as to the Asian triad and South American drug traffickers. The Australian Federal Police seized 3 tons of drugs and $ 27 million in cash and assets.
According to local authorities, this is the largest operation ever carried out in Australia and has involved 4,000 police officers, while 9,000 policemen are involved worldwide. In New Zealand, 35 people were arrested and $ 2.7 million recovered thanks to an operation called ‘Trojan Shield by local authorities’ and defined as “the most sophisticated in the world against organized crime that has been conducted by the police to date. “. But hundreds of people ended up in handcuffs in dozens of countries on various continents including the United States, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, England, Scotland, Norway, Lithuania, Hungary, Finland, Estonia, Sweden and Denmark.
The Australian Prime Minister called Ironside a “watershed” operation in the fight against global organized crime, while Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said in a press conference that police were able to intercept drug operations and prevent homicides and mass shootings.
How? In essence, the Australian authorities explained, the police forces were able to read millions of messages in real time and thus discover criminal plots and plots. “All they were talking about was drugs, violence, assaults and innocent people who had to be killed,” Commissioner Kershaw revealed. Basically, the criminals thought they could exchange encrypted messages in relative ‘security’, and instead those messages were also read by the police. The AnoM app was apparently installed on the cell phones of hundreds of criminal gang members around the world.
A fugitive Australian drug trafficker who was given it by undercover agents would spread it to the world of crime. On the black market it was possible to buy smartphones with the app already pre-installed.
According to Europol, there are a total of 800 arrests in more than 100 countries. This is the largest coordinated police operation of its kind. The officers, the European police office explained, had access to 27 million messages, which took 18 months to review.
(In the article, Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison. Photo: EPA / DEAN LEWINS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT)