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The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) sold phones to people involved in organised crime and arrested 800 criminals in the biggest ever operation using encrypted communication. Selling these encrypted devices was a deliberate attempt to trap organised crime, drug trafficking, and money laundering organisations, the Europol said in a release.
The operation named Trojan Shield was carried out by the FBI and 16 other countries, and supported by Europol and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“Encrypted criminal communications platforms have traditionally been a tool to evade law enforcement and facilitate transnational organized crime," said Calvin Shivers, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigative Division at FBI.
The Australian Federal Police, along with the FBI, created a company called ANOM that sold over 12,000 encrypted devices to criminal syndicates operating in over 100 countries. The devices sold by FBI included remote wipe and duress passwords that persuaded criminal networks to use the FBI-managed platform.
The law enforcement agencies read about 27 million messages sent and received on these devices over a period of 18 months. Exploiting the intelligence obtained, they arrested more than 800 criminals and seized drugs, firearms, luxury vehicles and over $48 million in various worldwide currencies and cryptocurrencies.