ANOM: Hundreds arrested in massive global crime sting

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

Senior members of the Mongrel Mob, Head Hunters and Comancheros gangs were arrested in New Zealand as part of the massive police operation.

The operation has "struck a heavy blow against organized crime", Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

It was, said Australian Federal Police Commander Jennifer Hearst, "a watershed moment in global law enforcement history".

The FBI revealed that "An0m" was its own creation, as police over 16 countries raided hundreds of locations. "You could only communicate with someone on the same platform", the police explained.

Millions of messages about drug dealing, money laundering and planned murders were accessed by authorities in the UK, US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

The encrypted communications, which are said to have included killing plans, mass drug trafficking, and gun distribution, were cracked from a platform secretly operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"Operation Ironside has allowed the AFP to inflict maximum damage to serious organised crime with devastating consequences to those who seek to do harm to Australians and Australia's interests, and today, Australia is a safer country", he said.

They said 9,000 police officers were involved worldwide.

In Australia, authorities said they arrested 224 people and seized more than four tons of drugs and $35 million.

The AFP claims that Australian-based Italian mafia, outlaw motorcycle gangsters, criminal syndicates in Asia, and criminals associated with organized crime in Albania have been charged on the Operations Ironside.

"We allege they've been trafficking illicit drugs into Australia at an industrial scale".

Kershaw said the surveillance enabled by the app is legal under the terms of Australia's Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Act 2018. "They are talking about drugs, violence, beating each other, and innocent people being killed".

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"[The texts] would be like, 'I need 1000 kilos at this price.' Very brazen". "There was no attempt to hide behind any kind of codified conversation".

It could only send messages to another device that had the organised crime app.

One murder plan known to the authorities included a plan to attack the cafe with a machine gun, targeting a family of five.

"We were able to, with the cooperation of that particular state police force, take out that individual before they were able to do that".

More than 300 NZ staff - including National Organised Crime (NOCG), Armed Offenders Squad, Special Tactics Group, Asset Recovery, High Tech Crime and Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Central and Wellington District staff - executed 37 warrants yesterday.

In March, Belgian police arrested dozens of people after cracking another encrypted chat system, called Sky ECC, and seizing more than 17 tons of cocaine.

Senior members of the Comancheros in Waikato, Mongrel Mob in Waikato and the Head Hunters were among those arrested.

A total of 525 charges have already been laid but authorities expect more in the coming weeks. The phones were then sold to organised crime networks through underworld distributors. The CEO, Jean-Francois Eap, has denied that the platform is aimed at criminal users and said the phones at the center of the investigation were counterfeit.

Police seized vehicles in a major operation across Adelaide.

More than 800 suspects were arrested and more than 32 tons of drugs - including cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines and methamphetamines - were seized along with 250 firearms, 55 luxury cars and more than $148 million in cash and cryptocurrencies.

In the past three years, NZ Police had found up to 20 organised crime groups that had been carrying out crime across global borders.

Law enforcement agencies were in a unique position to help the new Anom device find its market.

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