dpa, Hamburg, Germany via PoliceOne
LONDON — British police have arrested hundreds of suspected members of organized crime groups after international experts infiltrated an encrypted messaging network, the National Crime Agency said on Thursday.
The agency said police mounted Britain’s “biggest ever law enforcement operation,” making 746 arrests and recovering 54 million pounds, 77 firearms and more than 2 tons of drugs.
French and Dutch police infiltrated the EncroChat encrypted communications platform two months ago, sharing data via Europol that allowed British police to make “a massive breakthrough in the fight against serious and organized crime.”
The NCA said EncroChat, which provided secure mobile phone instant messaging, had some 60,000 users worldwide, including about 10,000 in Britain.
“The sole use was for coordinating and planning the distribution of illicit commodities, money laundering and plotting to kill rival criminals,” it said.
Nikki Holland, the agency’s investigations director, said the infiltration of EncroChat had underpinned work by more than 500 British police officers in “the broadest and deepest ever UK operation into serious organized crime.”
“Together we’ve protected the public by arresting middle-tier criminals and the kingpins, the so-called iconic untouchables who have evaded law enforcement for years, and now we have the evidence to prosecute them,” Holland said.
“This operation demonstrates that criminals will not get away with using encrypted devices to plot vile crimes under the radar,” said Home Secretary Priti Patel.