The FBI employed a mobile communications platform and collaborated with foreign law enforcement agencies in a global sting operation that led to more than 800 arrests of crime network members across 16 countries.
The bureau and its international partners monitored transnational criminal activity using the encrypted Anom messaging system as part of Operation Trojan Shield, with participation from Europol’s Operational Task Force, the Department of Justice said Tuesday.
Authorities covertly tracked approximately 27 million messages from more than 12,000 Anom devices sold to alleged crime syndicates who were not aware of the investigative work and communicated illegal activities with the technology.
“This was an unprecedented operation in terms of its massive scale, innovative strategy and technological and investigative achievement,” said Randy Grossman, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California.
“We aim to shatter any confidence in the hardened encrypted device industry with our indictment and announcement that this platform was run by the FBI.”
The Anom-based investigation began in 2018 after the FBI lawfully shuttered Phantom Secure, a Canadian encrypted device vendor found guilty of helping criminal users secretly communicate to evade law enforcement detection.
A federal grand jury in San Diego indicted 17 foreign nationals Tuesday for the distribution of communication devices to suspected criminal syndicates following a two-day global takedown.
Police forces in Australia, Sweden, Lithuania and the Netherlands took part in the effort.