Police Access Encrypted Devices in Major Global Crime Bust

Global law enforcers are celebrating today after a three-year operation across 16 countries led to the arrest of 800 and the seizure of over 30 tons of narcotics.

Europol described operation Greenlight/Trojan Shield as “one of the largest and most sophisticated law enforcement operations to date.”

According to The Economist, it was made possible after the developer of an encrypted device service known as Anom turned informant back in 2018.

This allowed the FBI and the Australian Federal Police to effectively take over the distribution of Anom-equipped hardened devices to the criminal underworld. One narcotics kingpin, Hakan Ayik, is reported to have unwittingly recommended Anom to others.

Anom eventually grew to support 12,000 devices and over 300 criminal syndicates in more than 100 countries, Europol claimed.

Thanks to their access to messages, global police recently searched 700 homes, made over 800 arrests and seized more than eight tons of cocaine, 22 tons of cannabis and cannabis resin, two tons of synthetic drugs, six tons of synthetic drugs precursors, 250 firearms, 55 luxury vehicles and over $48 million in fiat and cryptocurrencies.

Further “spin-off” operations will be launched over the coming weeks using evidence gathered from the 27 million Anom messages intercepted by the police, Europol added.

The willingness of criminals to sign-up for the service stemmed from previous disruption efforts, which led to the dismantling of the EncroChat platform in July 2020 and the takedown of Sky ECC in March this year.

“Encrypted criminal communications platforms have traditionally been a tool to evade law enforcement and facilitate transnational organized crime. The FBI and our international partners continue to push the envelope and develop innovative ways to overcome these challenges and bring criminals to justice,” said the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division assistant director Calvin Shivers.

“We are grateful to Europol for their commitment to fighting transnational organized crime and their partnership with the FBI.”

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