| 27 February 2024, Tuesday |

Australian police arrest over 200 after infiltrating encrypted messaging app

At least 200 people were arrested by Australian police due to their involvement in organized crime after infiltrating an encrypted messaging app that opened up nearly 25 million messages about “industrial scale” drug imports and murder plots, officials said on Tuesday.

Australia has joined efforts with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation starting from 2018, to capture criminals in Australia, Asia, South America and the Middle East involved in the global narcotics trade.

“This operation has dealt a heavy blow against organized crime – not just in this country, but one that will echo around organized crime around the world. This is a watershed moment in Australian law enforcement history,” Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

Australia did not announce any arrests in other countries but said Europol and the FBI would hold news conferences later on Tuesday.

The plan, which was conceived by Australian law officers and the FBI in 2018, saw officials in the United States take control of a messaging app called ANOM, which authorities said was popular with organized criminals.

When an Australian underworld figure begun distributing the app to his associates as a secure means to communicate, law enforcement authorities could control all their messages.

  • Reuters