'A watershed moment': The app that brought down Australia's underworld

Multiple arrests were made in a police operation across Adelaide

Multiple arrests were made in a police operation across Adelaide

A map provided by the FBI in a federal affidavit shows the reach of Anom - an encrypted phone platform the agency took control of.

In New Zealand, 35 people have been arrested by police with $3.7 million in assets seized as part of Operation Trojan Shield.

The ANOM app had been one of the messaging services popular with organised crime gangs, authorities say. It will resonate not only in this country, but around the world.

Anom devices were cellphones that had been stripped of all normal functions.

The UK National Crime Agency said it had carried out "multiple operations" as a result of the sting, codenamed Operation Trojan Shield.

AFP officers around the world on Monday carried out hundreds of search warrants, arresting and charging more than 200 alleged criminal underworld figures and seized more than 3,000 kg of illicit drugs and 45 million Australian dollars (34.8 million US dollars) in cash and assets.

FBI International Operations Division legal attaché for Australia Anthony Russo offered similar comments, saying: "Criminals should be on notice that law enforcement are resolute to continue to evolve our capabilities".

With the seed of an idea, USA law enforcement and Australian Federal Police hammered out logistical, technical and bureaucratic challenges over meals and beer, according to a source close to the investigation.

Australian police have alleged that fugitive Hakan Ayik inadvertently helped to expose the criminal network by proliferating the use of the phones. The document was unsealed on Monday.

They will appear in court today on charges of drug dealing, money laundering and other conspiracy charges.

Finnish police not only detained nearly 100 suspects and seized 500 kg of narcotics but also found a warehouse with 3-D printers used to manufacture gun parts.

Among them are drug dealers in the UK.

"Criminals assumed that the service was safe and touted it among themselves as the platform you should use, because it would be absolutely reliable".

More arrests and seizures are expected, it said.

In Sweden, police arrested 155 people on suspicion of serious crimes and prevented the killing of 10 people thanks to the operation, authorities said in a statement. Its CEO, Vincent Ramos, pleaded guilty; other company leaders were also indicted. That's why both the US and Australian officials came up with the decision to develop their version of a chat application - and they called it "ANOM". Investigators in Canada, where Phantom Secure was based, and Australia had known it was a preferred communications device for criminal organizations but had struggled to crack the case.

On Monday, June 7, 2021, law enforcement agencies from Europe, Australia, and the US organized in-house searches and arrested hundreds of criminal suspects.

Williams said these groups had been "preying" on some of New Zealand's most vulnerable communities. They're sold only through word-of-mouth referrals, by distributors whose reputations make them trusted within criminals' circles.

"This is a watershed moment in Australian law enforcement history".

Seeing a void in the underground market, the Federal Bureau of Investigation recruited a former Phantom Secure distributor who had been developing a new encrypted communications system called Anom.

Undercover Australian agents would give phones with the AN0M app pre-installed to certain high-level criminals who recommended the app to their associates.

Australia said it had arrested 224 people as a result of the operation, and had acted on 20 "threats to kill", potentially saving the lives of a "significant number of innocent bystanders".

"Essentially, they have handcuffed each other by endorsing and trusting ANOM and openly communicating on it - not knowing we were watching the entire time", said AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw.