Extensive police infiltration of encrypted app busts global crime ring

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) – Australian Federal Police have partnered counterparts in the United States and Europe to spy on organised criminals who were using encrypted messaging to allegedly smuggle drugs and commit other serious crimes.

In an operation that involved more than 100,000 police worldwide, officers decrypted and read communications sent over the ANOM encrypted app in real time, “giving law enforcement an edge that it had never had before”, Australian Federal Police Chief Commissioner Reece Kershaw told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday (June 8).

The alleged criminals were members of “outlaw motorcycle gangs, Australian mafia, Asian crime syndicates and serious and organised crime groups”, Mr Kershaw said. “We allege they’ve been trafficking illicit drugs into Australia at an industrial scale.”

In Australia, the operation has resulted in the seizure of more than A$45 million (S$46 million) in assets and cash, while more than 200 people have been charged with upwards of 500 offences. There have been arrests in 18 countries, Mr Kershaw said.

Over the coming 24 hours, law-enforcement officials in Europe and the US would be announcing details of how the operation has been fighting organised crime in those parts of the world, legal attache for the Federal Bureau of Investigation Anthony Russo told the press conference.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the busts will “echo around organised crime around the world”.

He said: ” “This is a watershed moment in Australian law enforcement history.”

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