Law enforcement in the United Kingdom managed to break into the encrypted communication platform EncroChat, resulting in the arrest of 746 people, the seizure of 54 77 million in cash, XNUMX firearms and more than two tonnes of drugs.
EncroChat was one of the largest providers of encrypted communications and offered a secure mobile instant messaging service.
Its sole use was for coordinating and planning the distribution of illegal goods, money laundering and conspiracies to kill rival criminals, said the United Kingdom National Crime Agency (NCA).
The service had 60.000 users worldwide, and the NCA reported that about 10.000 of them were in the United Kingdom.
The NCA has said it has been working with international law enforcement since 2016 to crack down on EncroChat and other encrypted communications platforms used by criminals. So two months ago, cooperating authorities from France and the Netherlands managed to penetrate the platform.
"Unbeknownst to users, the NCA and police were monitoring their every move," the NCA said. "Venetic is the largest and most important operation of its kind in the United Kingdom."
The users of the platform believed that their messages were safe, but the authorities had infiltrated the Encrochat network by installing a tool that helped them read the messages for months.
The NCA said it created the technology and specialized data mining capabilities needed to process EncroChat network data, which helped detect offenders by analyzing millions of messages and hundreds of thousands of images.
"Penetrating this UK criminal market communication and control platform is like having one person on every top organized crime team in the country," said Nikki Holland, NCA's Director of Investigation.
Nikki Holland also said that any criminal who uses an encrypted phone should be "very worried".