Crime gangs busted in global sting


Police arrested more than 800 people worldwide in a huge global sting involving encrypted phones that were secretly planted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, law enforcement agencies said yesterday.

Cops in 16 countries were able to read the messages of global underworld figures as they plotted drug deals, arms transfers and gangland hits on the compromised ANOM devices. Mafia groups, Asian crime syndicates, motorcycle gangs and other organized crime syndicates around the world were all monitored using the spiked phones as part of Operation Trojan Shield.

The sting, jointly conceived by Australia and the FBI, prevented around 100 murders, foiled several large-scale narcotics shipments and led to seizures of weapons and cash.

"The results are staggering," FBI assistant director Calvin Shivers said at the headquarters of the Europol police agency in the Netherlands.

Shivers said the FBI had provided criminal syndicates in over 100 countries with the devices over the last 18 months "that allowed us to monitor their communications." Europol hailed the "exceptional" operation, which saw around 12,000 of the ANOM devices distributed to criminals who thought they were chatting in secret.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the operation had "struck a heavy blow against organized crime - not just in this country, but one that will echo around organized crime around the world."

The operation began after global police work in the past two years shut down two major encrypted phone networks used by criminals.

To fill the void, the FBI operated its own encrypted device company, which Shivers said enabled them to "turn the tables" on criminals.

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June 2021

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