Hundreds Jailed in Global Sting Operation
Criminal groups in 16 countries were tracked for years by law enforcement agencies under the guise of a secure smartphone-based messaging application known as “ANOM,” leading to over 800 arrests.
ANOM was developed by an individual cooperating with the San Diego branch of the FBI who had been working on creating an encrypted messaging service for criminal activity. This unknown individual, who was facing charges and cooperating with law enforcement for a reduced sentence, developed the app and then distributed it to other criminal agents through existing networks.
Over 9,000 law enforcement agents from 18 countries were involved in the three-year trojan horse sting operation. German, Swedish and Dutch were the most commonly used languages by criminals in the app.
“This operation, known as OTF Greenlight/Trojan Shield, is one of the largest and most sophisticated law enforcement operations to date in the fight against encrypted criminal activities,” the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, also known as Europol, announced in a written statement. “A series of large-scale law enforcement actions were executed over the past days across 16 countries resulting in more than 700 house searches, more than 800 arrests and the seizure of over 8 tons of cocaine, 22 tons of cannabis and cannabis resin, 2 tons of synthetic drugs [amphetamine and methamphetamine], 6 tons of synthetic drugs precursors, 250 firearms, 55 luxury vehicles and over $48 million in various worldwide currencies and cryptocurrencies.”
The first communications were sent through the app in Oct. 2018 which culminated in simultaneous global search warrant executions in June 2021. While the app disabled certain smartphone features such as location tracking and voice recognition, it would copy and send the messages to secure servers operated by the FBI.
Intercepted communications showed that every device utilizing ANOM was used for criminal activities, the majority of which were used by organized crime syndicates. Over the course of the operation, Europol stated it collected 27 million messages from over 100 countries.
The majority of the arrests were made in Australia and Sweden, with 224 and 155 arrests respectively. No arrests were made by law enforcement in the U.S. because of privacy laws that shield domestic subjects.
“This was an unprecedented operation in terms of its massive scale, innovative strategy and technological and investigative achievement,” Acting United States Attorney Randy Grossman said in a written statement. “Hardened encrypted devices usually provide an impenetrable shield against law enforcement surveillance and detection. The supreme irony here is that the very devices that these criminals were using to hide from law enforcement were actually beacons for law enforcement. We aim to shatter any confidence in the hardened encrypted device industry with our indictment and announcement that this platform was run by the FBI.”
In The News
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Ballot measures normally don’t get too much attention. But Minneapolis residents next week are poised to vote... Read More
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Ballot measures normally don’t get too much attention. But Minneapolis residents next week are poised to vote for or against perhaps the most high profile ballot measure ever — one that could lead to the city’s police department being transformed into a public... Read More
SAN ANTONIO, Texas — The Department of Justice’s Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement in tandem with the European Union... Read More
SAN ANTONIO, Texas — The Department of Justice’s Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement in tandem with the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation on Tuesday announced the culmination of the agencies’ efforts to disrupt opioid trafficking on the darknet. The international law enforcement operation,... Read More
WASHINGTON -- An FBI search of the Washington, D.C. home of a Russian oligarch this week is moving the Justice... Read More
WASHINGTON -- An FBI search of the Washington, D.C. home of a Russian oligarch this week is moving the Justice Department into the political minefield that comes from mixing foreign policy with legal enforcement. The FBI conducted what it called "law enforcement activity" at the home... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Fallout from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol continued Wednesday as a congressional panel looked at... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Fallout from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol continued Wednesday as a congressional panel looked at why veterans would become violent against the country they swore to protect. Representatives of veterans groups and academics blamed mental health problems, underemployment, racism and disenchantment... Read More
WASHINGTON - U.S. Capitol Police took a 55-year-old Michigan man into custody Tuesday after he was “extracted” from what law... Read More
WASHINGTON - U.S. Capitol Police took a 55-year-old Michigan man into custody Tuesday after he was “extracted” from what law enforcement described as a “suspicious vehicle” parked near the Supreme Court building. "One of our teams just moved in and extracted the man from the SUV.... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — The newly installed chief of the U.S. Capitol Police says the force, still struggling six months after... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — The newly installed chief of the U.S. Capitol Police says the force, still struggling six months after an insurrection that left its officers battled, bloodied and bruised, "cannot afford to be complacent." The risk to lawmakers is higher than ever. And the threat... Read More