More than 800 people have been arrested across the globe in what is being called the world’s most sophisticated law enforcement operations after they were tricked into using a texting app surreptitiously controlled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The operation known as Trojan Shield saw devices with the ANOM app secretly distributed among criminals, allowing police to monitor their chats about drug smuggling, money laundering and even murder plots.
According to the BBC, more than 32 tonnes of drugs were recovered, including cannabis , cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines, and 250 guns as well, 55 luxury cars, and more than $148 million in cash with cryptocurrency.
The arrests were made in more than a dozen nations across Asia , Australia , South America, and the Middle East as a result of the operation, which was carried out by Australian police and the FBI.
Authorities in Australia said they detained 224 people and recovered almost four tonnes of drugs and $35 million in cash. Police in New Zealand said they had detained 35 people and confiscated cocaine and millions of dollars in valuables.
The operation had “struck a heavy blow against organised crime” around the globe, according to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Mission Trojan Shield/Greenlight was defined by Europol as the “largest ever law enforcement operation against encrypted communication.”
The operation was regarded as a “exceptional success” by Europol’s deputy executive director, Jean-Philippe Lecouffe.
As per the Reuters news agency, the agency did not break down the arrests by nation, but local officials claimed they numbered 70 people in Sweden and 49 in the Netherlands.