FBI, Europol, AFP react to global take down of mafia, bikie members in ‘sting of the century’

Tuesday - 08/06/2021 12:32
The FBI and Europol have revealed more details of the massive crime bust that has gripped the world and dealt a massive blow organised crime.

The FBI and Europol have revealed more details of the massive crime bust that has gripped the world and dealt a massive blow to organised crime gangs in just 24 hours.

In a press conference overnight, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said that along with the Australian Federal Police (AFP), authorities had had “turned the tables” on criminals and criminal organisations after fooling them to use a covert encrypted app.

Across 16 countries, more than 800 suspects have been nabbed, 8 tons of cocaine caught and more than $48 million recovered, officials confirmed.

Europol, including members of the Dutch National Police (Politie), and the Swedish Police Authority (Polisen), bragged they had carried out “one of the largest and most sophisticated law enforcement operations to date in the fight against encrypted criminal activities”.

They warned that “serious criminals wrongly believe that they can operate anonymously and out of sight of the police and that they cannot be caught”.

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FBI Criminal Investigative Division Assistant Director Calvin A. Shivers talking in The Hague overnight. Picture: Jerry Lampen
FBI Criminal Investigative Division Assistant Director Calvin A. Shivers talking in The Hague overnight.
Picture: Jerry LampenSource:AFP

 

Operation Ironside was formed three years ago as a collaboration between the AFP and the FBI to bring down underworld figures.

Internationally, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom incl. Scotland, and the United States joined Australia.

Nationally, the AFP said in a statement the intelligence led to the arrest of 224 suspects on more than 526 charges.

Also seized in Australia were 3.7 tonnes of drugs, 104 number of weapons, $44,934,457 million in cash, and assets expected to run into the millions of dollars.

“More arrests are expected domestically and offshore under a co-ordinated global response connected to Operation Ironside,” the statement warned.

Calvin Shivers, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division, said the sting, dubbed by the FBI and Europol as “Operation Trojan Shield”, involved more than 9000 police officer across 16 countries.

Of those, more than 4,000 members from the AFP and state and territory police were involved in the Australian operation.

“Criminals and criminal organisations often use encrypted platforms to shield their illicit activity from law enforcement,” Mr Shivers said.

“These platforms help criminals facilitate and co-ordinate drug trafficking, violent assaults, murders, public corruption, money laundering, many other crimes that are committed throughout the world.

“Through Operation Trojan Shield the FBI and our international law enforcement partners from across the globe were able to turn the tables on criminal organisations and gain access to their communications in order to disrupt their criminal activity.”
 

(LtoR) Drug Enforcement Administration Deputy Chief of Operations Matthew Donahue, Australian Federal Police Commander, Jennifer Hurst, Chief Constable of the Netherlands Police’s Central Unit Jannine van den Berg, Police Commissioner, Head of Intelligence of the Swedish Police Linda H Staaf, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigative Division, US Federal Bureau of Investigation Calvin Shivers and Europol's Deputy Executive Director Jean-Philippe Lecouffe. Picture: Jerry Lampen
(LtoR) Drug Enforcement Administration Deputy Chief of Operations Matthew Donahue,
Australian Federal Police Commander,Jennifer Hurst,
Chief Constable of the Netherlands Police’s Central Unit Jannine van den Berg,
Police Commissioner, Head of Intelligence of the Swedish Police Linda H Staaf, Assistant Director,
Criminal Investigative Division,
US Federal Bureau of Investigation Calvin Shivers and
Europol's Deputy Executive Director Jean-Philippe Lecouffe.
Picture: Jerry LampenSource:AFP

 

Hundreds of alleged offenders were tricked into communicating via AN0M, an encrypted app designed by police which grew to service more than 1 000 encrypted devices to over 300 criminal syndicates operating in more than 100 countries, including Italian organised crime, outlaw motorcycle gangs, and international drug trafficking organisations.

Users communicated in 45 languages on the app, according to officials, conversing about contract killings, drugs, and much more.

“Over the last 18 months, the FBI provided criminal organisation in over 100 countries encrypted devices that allowed us to monitor their communications,” Mr Shivers said.

“There were a number of things that resulted from this. Not only have we heard about the number of arrests and number of seizures but there were over 100 threats to life that were mitigated.

“To give you an idea of the magnitude of our penetration, we were actually able to see photographs of hundreds of tonnes of cocaine that were concealed in shipments of food, we were able to see hundreds of kilos of cocaine that were concealed in canned goods.”

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