Global op involving Federal Bureau of Investigation encryption network leads to 49 arrests in NL
Jun 09 2021
"This is a watershed moment in Australian law enforcement history", he added.
A spokeswoman said: "The National Crime Agency is proud to have been a partner in what has been an innovative and complex operation to target criminals operating globally and using encrypted communications platforms".
Bags of evidence were taken from an Adelaide property.
Law enforcers had "an edge" that they had never had before, said Kershaw.
Among those arrested are suspects with links to Australian-based Italian mafia, outlaw motorcycle gangs, Asian crime syndicates and Albanian organised crime.
Executing Australia's largest number of search warrants in one day, police yesterday seized 104 firearms, including a military-grade sniper rifle, as well as nearly A$45 million (US$34.9 million) in cash.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison hailed the three-year operation and vowed more was to come.
Australia said it had arrested 224 people as a result of the operation, and had acted on 20 "threats to kill", potentially saving the lives of a "significant number of innocent bystanders". More arrests are expected.
Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said multiple criminal plots were also foiled thanks to law enforcement access to the app, including a planned mass shooting at an Australian suburban cafe and the assassination of a family of five.
Money seized by Australian Federal Police after Operation Ironside/ Picture released June 8, 2021.
Mr Kershaw described those arrested as among the most risky criminals in Australia.
New South Wales Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said the system was like "peering through a crystal ball" into the mindset of organised crime, he told reporters.
A spokesman for the German Interior Ministry declined to confirm reports that the raids were linked to the FBI's hacking of encrypted communications networks used by criminals.
More than 200 people were arrested during the operation.
The FBI revealed that "An0m" was its own creation, as police over 16 countries raided hundreds of locations. The app would only communicate with other AN0M-equipped phones, and required payment of a monthly fee. The phones couldn't ring or email.
Eventually 11,800 devices were distributed across every continent except Antarctica, with most devices being used in Australia, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.
"Criminals needed to know a criminal to get a device", reads the AFP'sannouncement of the operation.
AN0M's website - which once offered "military grade" encryption services and devices with special features like "light and dark" display themes - was unavailable Tuesday, with a message from authorities that the "domain has been seized".
"These criminal influencers put the AFP in the back pocket of hundreds of alleged offenders", Kershaw said.
But from early on, the devices' developer was collaborating with the FBI - and as their use spread, they surreptitiously sent copies of the criminals' messages to the FBI, the Australian Federal Police, and other agencies.
Mr Williams said that left a void in the market that authorities helped fill with the ANOM app.
"Operation Trojan Shield is a shining example of what can be accomplished when worldwide law enforcement partners from around the world work together and develop state-of-the-art investigative tools to detect, disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organisations", he said at a news conference in The Hague.
Since October 2019, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has has cataloged more than 20 million messages from a total of 11,800 devices - with about 9,000 now active, according to the documents, which cited Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Australia and Serbia as the most active countries.
The FBI and Europol will present more details later on Tuesday.