Hundreds arrested Huge global organized crime sting

By Rek Hanibal Published on June 08, 2021
Hundreds arrested Huge global organized crime sting

Since 2018, Australia, New Zealand and the FBI have used an encrypted app, ANOM, to keep track of organised crime. It has led to drug trade arrests in 18 countries across Asia, North and South America, Europe and the Middle East.

Australia's prime minister called the sting a "watershed" operation that had hit criminal gangs globally."[It] has struck a heavy blow against organised crime - not just in this country, but one that will echo around organised crime around the world," he said in a televised press conference on Tuesday. Australian and New Zealand police were among the first to reveal the sting on Tuesday.

Australian police said they jointly conceived the plan with the FBI. The US agency and Europol will present their own findings later on Tuesday. The ANOM app had been one of the messaging services popular with organised crime gangs, authorities say.

By time zones, Australia and New Zealand were the first to issue complete information on Tuesday. Police said investigators had access to the supposedly secure "ANoM" platform for years.

"The encrypted communications which allegedly included plots to kill, mass drug trafficking and gun distribution were decrypted from a platform covertly run by the FBI," the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said. The platform was then spread by word of mouth on an invitation-only basis in organized crime circles.

Australian police arrested 224 people, who were now facing more than 526 charges. It also shut down six underground drug labs and seized firearms and dozens of millions of dollars in cash.

"We allege they are members of outlaw motorcycle gangs, Australian mafia, Asian crime syndicates and serious and organised crime groups," federal police commissioner Reece Kershaw said. "We allege they've been trafficking illicit drugs into Australia at an industrial scale."

The operation "has struck a heavy blow against organised crime not just in this country, but one that will echo around organised crime around the world," Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Australian police also believed the operation had helped prevent an organized crime-related murder plot targeting a family of five

Rek Hanibal

Rek Hanibal

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