Australian police arrest over 200 after cracking underworld messaging app

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That, and an operational decision to end the operation due to the opportunity to act on intelligence gathered using AN0M, led to today's disclosures.

"The success of Operation Trojan Shield is a result of tremendous innovation, dedication and unprecedented global collaboration", Shivers said.

"Encrypted criminal communications platforms have traditionally been a tool to evade law enforcement and facilitate transnational organized crime".

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) have used a smartphone app to pull off its biggest-ever organized crime sting operation.

Police this morning gave new details about our Operation Trojan Shield that involved three major organised crime investigations and targeted the importation, sale and supply of methamphetamine, as well as money-laundering activities.

Executing Australia's largest number of search warrants in one day, police on Monday seized 104 firearms, including a military-grade sniper rifle, as well as nearly A$45 million ($34.9 million) in cash. "And it helped prevent a number of crimes", Calvin Shivers, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division, told a news conference in The Hague, Netherlands.

As Tuesday began on the other side of the world, first in New Zealand, Australia and later in Europe, hundreds of people were arrested as a result.

"This is a watershed moment in Australian law enforcement history", Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

The seeds of the operations were sown when law enforcement agencies earlier took down two other encrypted platforms, EncroChat and SkyECC.

"As part of this, the NCA has conducted multiple operations targeting organised crime groups involved in drug trafficking and money laundering".

The FBI had just what they needed.

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"The mobile phones, which were bought on the black market, could not make calls or send emails".

"They actually came to us seeking these devices", Shivers said. Undercover investigators solicited certain underworld "influencers" to get the custom phones into the hands of fellow criminals, and new users had to be vetted by known existing customers, according to a source close to the investigation.

Raids on AN0M users were carried out across Australia as well as in the United States and Europe.

The post was later deleted.

"There was a void that was created by a lack of these encrypted platforms", said Shivers. "So that created an opportunity for collaboration with our global partners to not only develop the specific tool but also to develop the process of gathering the intelligence and disseminating the intelligence". All the time, police were looking over the shoulders of criminals as they discussed hits, drug shipments and other crimes.

The intelligence collected and analyzed "was able to prevent murder". It led to the seizure of drugs that led to the seizure of weapons.

Australian authorities said they arrested 224 people and seized more than four tons of drugs and $35 million in an ongoing operation that dates back three years.

The operation has led to the prevention of "tonnes" of illicit substances from coming into Australia, Commissioner Kershaw said.

German police detained more than 70 suspects and searched over 150 locations in Germany as a part of the global crackdown. The gangs believed the system was secure because the phones did not have any other capabilities - no voice or camera functions were loaded - and the app was encrypted.

The evidence prompted hundreds of arrests and foiled several large-scale drugs shipments, according to officials from several countries and unsealed U.S. court documents.

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