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FBI-Run Messaging App Catches Global Organized Crime

Credit: New Zealand Police via AP

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (77WABC) – A global sting involving an encrypted communications platform created by the FBI let to hundreds of arrests around the world in an effort to combat global organized crime, which Europol said is “one of the largest and most sophisticated law enforcement operations to date” on Tuesday.

Operation Trojan Shield led to police raids in 16 countries and took down 800 suspects. More than $148 million in cash and cryptocurrencies, over 32 tons of drugs, 250 firearms, and 55 luxury cars were found in the raids. According to Europol, the sting started when a European task force took down two encrypted platforms that had been used by criminal organizations, leaving them to unknowingly work with an FBI-led platform.

“Encrypted criminal communications platforms have traditionally been a tool to evade law enforcement and facilitate transnational organized crime, said Calvin Shivers, Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division for the FBI. “The FBI and our international partners continue to push the envelope and develop innovative ways to overcome these challenges and bring criminals to justice. We are grateful to Europol for their commitment to fighting transnational organized crime and their partnership with the FBI. ”

Europol created what they call an “Operational Task Force” which implemented the FBI-led Operation Trojan Shield, and included help from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Sweden, Australia, and the Dutch National Police.

“Operation Trojan Shield and Europol Operation Greenlight not only reveal how transnational criminal organizations continue to exploit encrypted communication services for their own illicit gain, but also show the commitment of the law enforcement community to develop innovative strategies to counter this activity,” DEA Deputy Chief of Operations Matthew Donahue said. “These operations underscore the seriousness of the international drug threat and provide a strong foundation from which future investigations can be built.”

“As clearly shown in this operation, transnational organized crime is a global problem that requires a global solution, strong international partnerships and timely information sharing which are critical tools in this fight,” Donahue added.

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