More than 800 suspects of various crimes have been arrested worldwide after being tricked into using an encrypted messaging application created by the FBI. This worldwide anti-crime operation has been called Trojan Shield / Greenlight and is the largest of its kind in history.
The operation, organized jointly by Australia and the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) – America’s domestic intelligence and security service – secretly distributed devices with the ANOM application among the criminals, allowing police to monitor their conversations about drug trafficking, money laundering, and even assassination plots.
The targets included drug gangs and people with mafia connections. Drugs, weapons, luxury vehicles, and cash were also seized in the operation, carried out in more than a dozen countries. This included eight tons of cocaine, 250 weapons, and more than $48 million R$242 million) in various currencies and cryptocurrencies worldwide.
The European Union’s law enforcement agency “Europol” described the operation as the “largest law enforcement operation against encrypted communication.”
How did the worldwide operation against organized crime work using the ANOM application?
The FBI has begun operating a network of encrypted devices called ANOM and secretly distributed devices with the chat app among the criminal underworld through informants.
The idea for the operation came after two other encrypted platforms were taken down by law enforcement agencies, leaving criminal gangs in search of secure phones to plan their crimes without being intercepted by police.
The devices were initially used by allegedly more senior criminals, giving other criminals the confidence to use the platform.
In total, about 12,000 encrypted devices have been used by about 300 criminal organizations in more than 100 countries.
What have law enforcement authorities discovered in the international operation with the ANON app?
Law enforcement officers were able to read millions of criminal messages in “real time” describing murder plots, mass drug importation plans, and other illegal schemes.
In total, about 9,000 police officers worldwide were involved in Operation Trojan Shield / Greenlight.
In statements from law enforcement agencies, they have not yet named any of those arrested in the operation.
In Australia, 224 people were arrested, including members of motorcycle gangs, mafia groups, Asian crime syndicates, and organized crime groups.
New Zealand police said 35 people in the country were arrested.
The deputy executive director of Europol (the European Union Agency for Police Cooperation, it is the European Union’s law enforcement agency) Jean-Philippe Lecouffe, described the operation as an “exceptional success.”
The agency did not disclose the arrests in each country, but local officials said they included 70 people in Sweden and 49 in the Netherlands, according to the Reuters news agency.
Why is the success of this international police operation using the ANON application important?
Operation Trojan Shield / Greenlight is a watershed in the fight against international organized crime. With globalization, the internet, encrypted communication apps like WhatsApp and Telegram, and cryptocurrencies that leave no trace of their operations, it has become very easy for criminals to operate in various countries around the world without leaving a trace for the police.
At the same time, national police forces are generally limited to operating only in their national territories and rely on cooperation and goodwill from other countries to pursue cases and crimes that extend beyond their borders.
Although there is Interpol (The International Criminal Police Organization) which is an international organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation and crime control, it is far from effective and efficient enough to keep up with the speed and technology used by international criminals to commit crimes in more than 2 countries.
At the European Union level, there is much more international cooperation between the member states of the union. Europol is the agency that facilitates the coordination of police actions that involve fighting crime in several countries of the union at the same time.
However, the Trojan Shield/Greenlight operation involving dozens of countries at the same time shows that the long arm of the law extends beyond national borders and that it will become more difficult for criminals to plan their crimes without being intercepted.
Why is Operation Trojan Shield / Greenlight important in terms of global governance?
So far, globalization has been much more economic and “criminal” than political. In other words, the economy is much more globalized with multinationals operating in several countries at the same time, and so are the criminals.
However, political globalization is only in its infancy. The world is still separated into almost 200 sovereign countries that cooperate very little with each other politically. There is an “international norm” of non-interference between countries, which can make it difficult to fight crime for example, but also to solve world problems like international terrorism, climate change, predatory fishing, nuclear proliferation, among other problems.
This international mega police operation is a small example of the fact that when countries cooperate for the common good, they can achieve great success. And this success can encourage greater global governance to try to solve the global problems mentioned above.