The FBI, Europol & Australian Police Worked Together.
The first ‘encrypted messaging service’ to be hacked as far as the underworld was concerned was Encrochat.
This was done by French Police using the Cerberus Malware
There is a playlist for Encrochat on our YouTube.
It resulted in 779 arrests in the Uk for people using the chat network.l to discuss crimes.
The second most recent to get hacked was Sky Ecc network and that was accessed by law enforcement agencies.
This was heavily denied by the owners of the app.
The Takedown of Gangs
Today the FBI have revealed the intricate levels they went to hijack the anom app.
They then went on to provide criminals the handsets for “secure “communications.
The messages sent via the app would then be used to convict them later.
An Australian Federal Police-led operation has charged more than one hundred organised crime members.
Trojan Shield was Years in the making developing a world-leading capability to see encrypted communications l.
The authorities claim isnused exclusively by organised crime gangs.
The encrypted communications which allegedly included plots to kill, mass drug trafficking and gun distribution.
With the help of FBI they were decrypted from a platform covertly run by multiple agencies.
More than 4,000 members from the AFP and state and territory police have been involved in the execution of hundreds of warrants since 7 June, 2021.
FBI REVEALS FAKE APP
But it was revealed today by Australian police and FBI it was covertly created in 2018, predating the Encrochat hack by several years.
Operation Ironside has led to the arrest of 224 offenders on 526 charges in every mainland Australian state.
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.
This is what has been seized under Operation Ironside since 2018.
AFP RAIDS ON GANGS
The AFP also acted on 20 threats to kill, potentially saving the lives of a significant number of innocent bystanders.
FBI intelligence referred to state police agencies which took immediate action.
More arrests are expected domestically and offshore under a coordinated global response connected to Operation Ironside.
The AFP is also likely to seek extradition requests of a number of persons of interest living overseas. It comes as there have been tonnes of drugs and hundreds of arrests overseas.
The AFP will allege offenders linked to Australian-based Italian mafia, outlaw motorcycle gangs, Asian crime syndicate and Albanian organised crime are among those charged under Operation Ironside.
Operation Ironside began almost three years ago and is the Australian component of a long-term, international, covert investigation. The FBI and AFP targeted the dedicated encrypted communications platform, which was used exclusively by organised crime.
After working in close partnership on Operation Safe Cracking to take down the encrypted platform provider Phantom Secure, the AFP and FBI worked together to fill the vacuum.
The FBI had access to a new app, named AN0M, and began running it without the knowledge of the criminal underworld.
The Raids By Police
The AFP provided the highly skilled-technical staff, and capability to decrypt and read encrypted communications in real time, giving law enforcement an edge it had never had before.
AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw thanked the FBI for its cooperation, along with the 18 countries that worked with the AFP to maintain the integrity of the platform.
As part of the global operation more than 9000 officers from law enforcement have deployed to the international efforts. Commissioner Kershaw acknowledged the significant resources provided by Australia’s state and territory police during the days of resolution.
“Today, Australia is a much safer country because of the extraordinary outcome under Operation Ironside,”
The words of Commissioner Kershaw who also said.
“It highlights how devastatingly-effective the AFP is when it works with local and global partners, and takes its fight against transnational organised crime offshore.
“This world-first operation will give the AFP, state and territory police years of intelligence and evidence.
“There is also the potential for a number of cold cases to be solved because of Operation Ironside.
“However, tomorrow, and in the future, law enforcement will come up against serious challenges.
What was Anom?
“AN0M was an influential encrypted communications app but there are even bigger encrypted platforms that are being used by transnational and serious organised criminals .
“They are almost certainly using those encrypted platforms to flood Australia with drugs, guns and undermine our economy by laundering billions of dollars of illicit profit.
“Organised crime syndicates target Australia, because sadly, the drug market is so lucrative. Australians are among the world’s biggest drug takers.
THE EFFECTS OF DRUG GANGS
“Our first responders, our teachers and every Australian should be able to go to work and live in our communities without being harmed by an individual under the influence of dangerous drugs.
The app AN0M was installed on mobile phones that were stripped of other capability. The mobile phones, which were bought on the black market.
The phones could not make calls or send emails.
It could only send messages to another device that had the organised crime app.
Criminals needed to know a criminal to get a device.
The devices organically circulated and grew in popularity among criminals.
They were confident of the legitimacy of the app
This was mainly because high-profile organised crime figures vouched for its integrity.
“These criminal influencers put the AFP in the back pocket of hundreds of alleged offenders.
“Essentially, they have handcuffed each other by endorsing and trusting AN0M
Gang bosses were openly communicating on it .
They were unaware we were watching the entire time,” Commissioner Kershaw said.
FBI International Operations Division for Canberra Anthony Russo said
Criminals around the world had long used encrypted criminal communications.
The purpose of the platforms is to avoid law enforcement detection.
Wanted And Dangerous
The Australian police are laying the blame on the doorstep of Hakan Ayik
The FBI are claiming a undercover officer gave him the handsets first and introduced them to friends.
He is currently Australia’s most wanted organised crime boss.
He is referred to in Australian press as “the Facebook gangster”.
WHERE IS HAKAN
He has been on the run for years, tracked by the federal police and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
Ayik is suspected of making himself the most prolific Australian drug broker in decades.
He was a key target of what was at the time Australia’s biggest organised crime probe.
Ayik’s Criminal Past
By 2008, his ruthlessness was paying him a good living .
Ayik was the owner of two watches worth half a million dollars, as well as karaoke bars and brothels in Sydney and Canberra.
He was also firmly on the radar of federal and state policing agencies for his suspected involvement in a series of drug importations
He is believed to have smuggled drugs worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
A police intelligence report that year stated that several of Ayik’s high school friends had gone on to hold high ranks in the Comancheros outlaw motorcycle gang.
But Ayik himself wasn’t interested in being a bikie, he believed the group could aid his growing business.
“Ayik is not publicly a member of the Comancheros, but he has a lot of influence over what happens in the club while keeping a low profile,
NSW Crime Commission (NSWCC) intelligence files stated, describing him as a “large scale” drug importer.
He was also one of the first suspected drug brokers to grasp the utility of using warring bikie groups to work together to distribute drugs across Australia.
Doors and pipelines
As policing agencies began more closely watching Ayik, they spotted something unusual for an Australian crook.
The 31-year-old was using his friendship with a mid-level Chinese Triad crime gang member.
This connect was a man called “Mark” Kong Ho,
He planned to negotiate access to a drug pipeline controlled by the most powerful Triad crime syndicate a group called The Company.
They had drug labs in southern China, Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand.
The introduction was not without its downsides.
The following year, ‘The Company’ kidnapped Ho after an importation Ayik and Ho had organised was seized by police.
Police phone taps suggest Ayik paid a $300,000 ransom to ensure his panicked friend was released.
This event may have prompted Ayik to expand his ambitions yet again and cut out the middle-man.
When police covertly downloaded a mobile phone in his luggage at Sydney airport in late 2009, they discovered a selfie of in a industrial pharmaceutical factory in India.
The police also discovered documents outlining the purchase of vast quantities of drug making chemicals.
The evidence suggested Ayik was planning his own industrial-scale “super” synthetic drug laboratory on the sub-continent.
He also cultivated contacts inside government departments. In 2009, NSW Police charged one of their civilian employees –
The employee had access to sensitive police intelligence detailing the work of several agencies targeting Ayik
They stole files that were later leaked to Ayik’s Comanchero associates. That same year, phone taps captured Ayik directing a prison officer to pass messages to jailed bikies.
By 2009, Ayik’s network was also allegedly directing a corrupt Tongan customs official to assist with importations.
He was manipulationg the official who was later arrested after New Zealand and Tongan police discovered 40 kilograms of liquid methylamphetamine.
Using police intelligence and phone taps that suggested Ayik had used his “doors” to transport the drugs from South Africa via air freight to Tonga.
From where they were to be shipped to Australia.
Ayik’s phone calls and social media posts were secretly hoovered up between 2008 and 2010.
He was monitored by the Australian Crime Commission as part of an Operation codenamed Hoffman.
It gained evidence implicating Ayik in a 200kg heroin importation and domestic drug trafficking involving train and air freight and light planes.
Life Of A Fugitive
Ayik was next heard from in November 2010 when local media reported he had fled guards at a border crossing in Cyprus.
He was arrested in Cyprus and police found him carrying drug production equipment and eight mobile phones.
He bizarrely was given bail….and of course he fled again.
Cat and Mouse
Meanwhile in Australia, NSW authorities seized his Motorbike and his apartment in Sydney’s Chinatown.
They also froze his shareholdings in several companies.
It did little to slow him down.
Encrypted Phones In Oz Underworld
Official sources, who are not authorised to speak publicly, say Ayik is suspected of introducing entire encrypted communication platforms to Australia.
The app allowed criminals to send messages without fear of interception.
When the first platform he introduced, Phantom Secure, was taken out by the FBI and Australian police in 2018.
Comanchero Marco Coffen brought another called Cipher.
Ayik then introduced a third, Anom.
Australia Tackling Crypto Phones
Australian Victoria Police have recently described the impunity afforded to crime groups by encrypted technology as devastating.
Some police are calling for new policies to counter the problem.
The federal police, and the Australian Criminal Commission are asking government to pass new laws to enable police to gain greater access to encrypted or dark web communications used by criminal groups.
This is a move being resisted by privacy and civil liberty advocates.
Multiple official sources say Ayik was using these platforms and his bikie connections to direct major drug importations into Australia.
Police say they know the scale because some of them were seized.
In 2014 a shipment of 1.9 tonnes of MDMA and 850 kilograms of methamphetamine worth an estimated $1.6 billion.
OCG GANGS ‘DEALT HEAVY BLOW’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says
‘Organised crime has been dealt a heavy blow after a global law enforcement operation yielded mass raids and arrests using intelligence from a compromised encrypted communications app.’
We have documented Encrochat events since the hack last year but this shows that law enforcement agencies have been doing this even before then.
A new age of technology used against the criminals who trusted them will send shockwaves through the underworld.
But the same way police adapted, the need for privacy will always be a human urge in the age of invasion.