Global Sting: 800 Arrested Using FBI-Run Messaging App

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Tuesday, June 8, 2021 - 8:15am

Criminal gangs divulged plans for moving drug shipments and carrying out killings on a messaging app secretly run by the FBI, law enforcement agencies said Tuesday, unveiling a global sting operation they said dealt an “unprecedented blow” to organized crime around the world. The operation known as Trojan Shield led to police raids in 16 nations. More than 800 suspects were arrested and more than 32 tons of drugs were seized along with 250 firearms, 55 luxury cars and more than $148 million in cash and cryptocurrencies, reports the Associated Press.

The seeds of the sting were sown when law enforcement agencies took down two encrypted platforms, EncroChat and Sky ECC, that had been used by criminal gangs to organize drug trafficking and underworld hits. With gangs in the market for a new means of communication, the FBI stepped in with a covertly developed app called ANOM that was installed on modified mobile phones. Over the past 18 months, the FBI provided phones via unsuspecting middlemen to more than 300 gangs operating in more than 100 countries. Law enforcement agencies from Sweden to New Zealand described the operation as having a significant impact. Finnish police said Tuesday that nearly 100 people have been detained and more than half a ton of drugs confiscated, along with dozens of guns and cash worth hundreds of thousands of euros (dollars). In Germany, the general prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt said that more than 70 people were arrested Monday and drugs, cash and weapons were seized. In Australia, authorities arrested 224 people and seized more than four tons of drugs and $35 million. New Zealand police said they had arrested 35 people and seized drugs and assets worth millions of dollars.

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