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Hundreds arrested in massive global crime sting using messaging app

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posted on Jun, 8 2021 @ 01:55 PM
Gotta hand it to the FBI on this one, this is pretty impressive.

Over the last 3 years the FBI and a joint global police taskforce have been secretly running a secure messaging service for criminals called ANOM. The service is available only through special customized phones capable of communicating only through the ANOM network. The phones were provided by other criminals and have been used to facilitate communication in thousands of crimes by thousands of organized criminals around the world.

The officers have been able to watch in real time as crimes were plotted and carried out and have now moved in making hundreds of arrests around the world.

I think my favourite part though, the criminals were charged a monthly fee for the ANOM service, essentially paying for their own surveillance.

More than 800 suspected criminals have been arrested worldwide after being tricked into using an FBI-run encrypted messaging app, officials say.

The operation, jointly conceived by Australia and the FBI, saw devices with the ANOM app secretly distributed among criminals, allowing police to monitor their chats about drug smuggling, money laundering and even murder plots.

Officials called it a watershed moment.

Targets included drug gangs and people with links to the mafia.

Drugs, weapons, luxury vehicles and cash were also seized in the operation, which was conducted across more than a dozen countries. This included eight tonnes of coc aine, 250 guns and more than $48m (£34m) in various worldwide currencies and cryptocurrencies.

The FBI began operating an encrypted device network called ANOM, and covertly distributed devices with the chat app among the criminal underworld via informants.

The idea for the operation came after two other encrypted platforms were taken down by law enforcement agencies, leaving criminal gangs in the market for new secure phones.

The devices were initially used by alleged senior crime figures, giving other criminals the confidence to use the platform.

Running a sort of WhatsApp platform for criminals is a bold move, and getting bespoke handsets into the hands of the very law-breakers they were trying to catch, was ambitious, to say the least.

Officials reportedly took control of a communications firm called ANOM around three years ago, after a convicted criminal promised them access to it in return for a more lenient sentence. The devices were billed as super-secure and had a very specific target market - organised crime groups.

The authorities even took advantage of a current trend in Silicon Valley - they charged a monthly subscription for the product.

Officers were able to read millions of messages in "real time" describing murder plots, mass drug import plans and other schemes.

"All they talk about is drugs, violence, hits on each other, innocent people who are going to be murdered, a whole range of things," said Australian Federal Police commissioner Reece Kershaw.

In total, some 9,000 police officers around the world were involved in the sting.

Calvin Shivers of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division said the operation had enabled police agencies to "turn the tables on criminal organisations", with intelligence gathered preventing murders and a number of other crimes.

"We were actually able to see photographs of hundreds of tons of coc aine that were concealed in shipments of fruit," he said.

The FBI is expected to present more details later on Tuesday.

Europol's deputy executive director Jean-Philippe Lecouffe described the operation as an "exceptional success".

The agency did not break down the arrests in each country, but local officials said they included 70 people in Sweden and 49 in the Netherlands, according to Reuters news agency.

Linda Staaf, the Swedish police's head of intelligence, said the operation had helped to prevent more than 10 planned murders in Sweden.

edit on 8/6/2021 by dug88 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 8 2021 @ 02:02 PM
a reply to: dug88



posted on Jun, 8 2021 @ 02:05 PM
a reply to: Bigburgh

Ah thanks..sorry missed that one.

posted on Jun, 8 2021 @ 02:06 PM
But cant get Hunter and the Big Guy

posted on Jun, 8 2021 @ 02:16 PM
a reply to: Mark08

No joke right? Priorities I guess? It seems as though almost no politicians get charged for anything, even Fauci is immune it seems yet some civilian criminals get slammed of course.

A bit bias but it's nice to have them off the streets regardless, sad that the FBI seems to ignore the real crooks at the top and seems rather convenient considering funding sources.

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