- The FBI revealed that ‘An0m’ was its own creation, as police over 16 countries raided hundreds of locations.
- 800 users of the encrypted communications app have been arrested, and $48 million in crypto was seized.
- More operations will follow, albeit of a smaller scale and importance, targeting lesser criminals.
The police forces in sixteen countries have carried out multiple simultaneous raids across the globe, following the cracking of ‘Anom,’ a cryptophone app that was used by 9,000 people and 12,000 devices worldwide. Naturally, many of these users were looking to hide their criminal activities from the police, and this is why they opted for a service like An0m. These people didn't know that the service was created and run by the FBI as a trap, though, so the federal agents were comfortably monitoring the communications of drug dealers, money launderers, and mobsters of all kinds.
The crackdown operation was named “Trojan Shield,” and it involved the FBI, the U.S. DEA, the Europol, and police forces in Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom incl. Scotland, and the United States.
The result was the arresting of 800 individuals who were confirmed to be involved in 300 criminal circles. The FBI reviewed their messages for the last 18 months, evaluating approximately 27 million messages that flew around the An0m network during its “honeypot” operation.
The items seized during this massive operation include the following:
- $48 million worth in various cryptocurrencies
- 250 firearms
- 55 luxury vehicles
- 8 tons of cocaine
- 22 tons of cannabis and cannabis resin
- 2 tons of amphetamine and methamphetamine
- 6 tons of synthetic drugs precursors
As Europol’s announcement points out, the main part of the crackdown has been completed, but the law enforcement action isn’t over yet. There will be numerous smaller-scale operations launched in the following months, targeting other users of ‘An0m’ who were probably not prioritized due to committing less severe crimes.
This comes a year after another encrypted communications service, the ‘Encrochat,’ lost control of its infrastructure to law enforcement services resulting in a massive crackdown soon afterward. That service was "legitimately illegal" and not an entrapping platform, but the shutdown of its operation created a gap in that niche market nonetheless. The FBI moved quickly to fill that gap with 'An0m', and it looks like the plan worked like a charm.