LONDON — A massive international sting involving 16 countries, including the U.S., has netted more than 800 suspects, the seizure of 8 tons of cocaine and more than $48 million, officials said Tuesday.
The FBI and Australian law enforcement developed and operated an encrypted device company, called ANOM, that was then used to gain access to organized crime networks in more than 100 countries, according to Europol, the law enforcement agency of the European Union.
“Operation Trojan Shield is a shining example of what can be accomplished when law enforcement partners from around the world work together and develop state of the art investigative tools to detect, disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations,” said Calvin Shivers, the assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division in a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands.
ANOM’s users believed the devices to be secure, according to Jannine van den Berg of the Dutch National Police at the press conference. Access to the communications of those involved in criminal networks meant that law enforcement agencies were able to read encrypted messages.
The platform’s users communicated in 45 languages about trafficking and drugs, arms and explosives, armed robberies, contract killings and more, said van der Berg.
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Shields also said that the operation was able to mitigate over 100 threats to life. The access to their networks also enabled law enforcement agencies to see photographs of hundreds of tons of cocaine concealed in shipments of fruit and canned goods.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a press conference Tuesday that the operation “struck a heavy blow against organized crime — not just in this country, but one that will echo around organized crime around the world.”