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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Operation Global Shield: FBI Operated ANOM Sting Nets Over 800 Arrests & 32 Tons of Drugs [UPDATED]

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The FBI Secretly Ran the Anom Messaging Platform, Yielding Hundreds of Arrests in a Global Sting. Photo: AP News

Operation Global Shield

Criminal gangs divulged plans for moving drug shipments and carrying out killings on a secure messaging system secretly run by the FBI, law enforcement agencies said Tuesday, as they unveiled a global sting operation they said dealt an “unprecedented blow” to organized crime in several countries around the world.

The operation known as Trojan Shield led to police raids in 16 nations. 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.

The seeds of the sting were sown in 2018 when law enforcement agencies took down a company called Phantom Secure that provided customized end-to-end encrypted devices to criminals, according to court papers. Unlike typical cell phones, the devices don’t make phone calls or browse the internet — but allow for secure messaging. As an outgrowth of the operation, the FBI also recruited a collaborator who was developing a next-generation secure messaging platform for the criminal underworld called ANOM. The collaborator engineered the system to give the agency access to any messages being sent.

Since October 2019, the FBI has cataloged more than 20 million messages from a total of 11,800 devices — with about 9,000 currently active. Photo: 7News

ANOM Platform

The FBI, in conjunction with law enforcement partners, secretly built into Anom the ability to covertly intercept and decrypt the messages being sent through the service’s system. In court filings, the bureau detailed extensive conversations about narcotics trafficking, cryptocurrency transactions, cash smuggling, corruption and other illicit activity flowing through Anom’s systems. The FBI collaborator effectively created a “blind copy” channel so that every single message sent by ANOM users ended up on a server run by the agency, court documents say.

ANOM didn’t take off immediately. They say the number of active ANOM users was only 3,000 until Sky, one of the platforms previously used by criminal gangs, was dismantled in March. But once other secure platforms used by criminal gangs to organize drug trafficking underworld hits and money laundering were taken down by police, chiefly EncroChat and Sky ECC, gangs were in the market for a new one and the FBI’s platform was ready. 

Since October 2019, the FBI has cataloged more than 20 million messages from a total of 11,800 devices — with about 9,000 currently active, according to the documents, which cited Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Australia, and Serbia as the most active countries.

Intelligence gathered and analyzed “enabled us to prevent murders. It led to the seizure of drugs that led to the seizure of weapons. And it helped prevent a number of crimes,” Calvin Shivers, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, told a news conference in The Hague, Netherlands.

Over the past 18 months, the agency provided phones via unsuspecting middlemen to more than 300 gangs operating in more than 100 countries. “There was a void that was created by a lack of these encrypted platforms,” Shivers said, of the initial move to take down apps previously used by gangs. “So that created an opportunity for collaboration with our international partners, to not only develop the specific tool but also to develop the process of gathering the intelligence and disseminating the intelligence."

The ANOM app became popular in criminal circles as users told one another it was a safe platform. All the time, police were looking over the shoulders of criminals as they discussed hits, drug shipments, and other crimes. The devices were initially used by alleged senior crime figures, giving other criminals the confidence to use the platform. "You had to know a criminal to get hold of one of these customized phones. The phones couldn't ring or email. You could only communicate with someone on the same platform," the Australian police explained.

Australian fugitive and alleged drug trafficker Hakan Ayik

Australian fugitive and alleged drug trafficker Hakan Ayik was key to the sting, having unwittingly recommended the app to criminal associates after being given a handset by undercover officers, police said. Police said he was "best off handing himself into us" as soon as possible, as he may be in danger himself, having unwittingly helped the FBI with their sting.

In total, some 9,000 police officers around the world were involved in the sting. Calvin Shivers of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division said the operation had enabled police agencies to "turn the tables on criminal organizations," with intelligence gathered preventing murders and a number of other crimes.

The operation known as Trojan Shield led to police raids in 16 nations. More than 800 suspects were arrested and more than 32 tons of drugs. Photo: Australian Federal Police

Worldwide Arrests

Narcotics smugglers in South America allegedly used a banana distributor and an Ecuadorean tuna company, for example, to smuggle narcotics to Asia and Europe—in part by bribing port officials, U.S. authorities said in court documents. Belgian authorities seized 1,523 kilograms of cocaine bound for Antwerp based on leads from monitoring Anom messaging. Hollowed-out pineapples and refrigerated fish were also used to conceal contraband, "we were actually able to see photographs of hundreds of tons of cocaine that were concealed in shipments of fruit," authorities said.

One user boasted about his ability to move drugs internationally using French diplomatic pouches—the envelopes or packages that diplomats are authorized to bring in and out of foreign countries without being searched under the rules of international diplomacy—according to U.S. court documents.

While primarily used in drug trafficking and money laundering, an FBI agent quoted in the documents says “high-level public corruption cases (also were) initiated as a result.” The agent said a goal of Trojan Shield was to “shake the confidence in this entire industry because the FBI is willing and able to enter this space and monitor messages.”

Statements from law enforcement agencies did not name any of those arrested in the sting. Europol's deputy executive director Jean-Philippe Lecouffe described the operation as an "exceptional success". The agency did not break down the arrests in each country, but local officials said they included 70 people in Sweden and 49 in the Netherlands, according to Reuters news agency. Linda Staaf, the Swedish police's head of intelligence, said the operation had helped to prevent more than 10 planned murders in Sweden.

Finnish police said Tuesday that nearly 100 people have been detained and more than 500 kilograms (half a ton) of drugs confiscated, along with dozens of guns and cash worth hundreds of thousands of euros (dollars). 

In Germany, the general prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt said that more than 70 people were arrested Monday, and drugs, cash, and weapons were also seized.

European police last year delivered a major blow to organized crime after cracking an encrypted communications network, known as EncroChat, used by criminal gangs across the continent.

In Australia, as reported by Borderland Beat, authorities said they arrested 224 people and seized more than four tons of drugs and $35 million. New Zealand police said they had arrested 35 people and seized drugs and assets worth millions of dollars.

A Total of 32 Tons of Drugs including 8 tons of cocaine, 22 tons of marijuana, 2 tons of methamphetamine, and 6 tons of precursor chemicals as well as 250 firearms and over $48 million were seized. (Photo: AFP)

Grand totals for the entire investigation include 800 arrests; and seizures of more than 8 tons of cocaine; 22 tons of marijuana; 2 tons of methamphetamine/amphetamine; six tons of precursor chemicals; 250 firearms; and more than $48 million in various worldwide currencies. Dozens of public corruption cases have been initiated over the course of the investigation. And, during the course of the investigation, more than 50 clandestine drug labs have been dismantled. One of the labs hit yesterday was one of the largest clandestine labs in German history.


  1. From a supermax in the Rockies there's a Short signature on it. With a fine Bearded shave. Andando de barbas oh de corto. Todo el mundo entero. Paque sepan que todo el jale se quebra de aqui. Arancan ese trabajo. Y llenen la linia.

  2. Thats funny you got the biggest criminal organization in history monitoring the little criminals and taking all the ill gotten gains to keep for themselves ! You couldnt script this shit .Fiction doesnt have a thing on reality .

  3. Aww, there's our beloved Queen on the $5 CAD. God Save the Queen.

    Canadian girlđź’‹

  4. With the FBI monitoring all this activity over such a long time they must have been aware of murders (and other crimes) which they did not stop in order to not blow their cover.

    There will be some interesting legal implications of this.

    1. Not really FBI did not tell to kill people. It's all about catching the big fish with the evidence. If you look at it in that concept...then since Obrador looks the other way when Cartels are running rampant, then Obrador should be jailed.

    2. 2:32 I have great news, FBI did foil/prevent killings of families.victims.

  5. ONce upon a time drug busts where about grams and ounces, then they became pounds and KGs and now it gotta be tons in order to make the headline.

    The WoD surely has been a smashing success for those feeding on the billions and billions of tax payer budget.

    Got a whole bunch of folks hooked to dope as well. Congratulations to all corrupt politicians on both sides of the border.

    1. Well thank you mister, may the flow of drugs continue.

    Al Jazeera documentary about Aguililla, Michoacan, CJNG, CU etc

  7. Real shit! The ones you never heard about them are realy the most powerful!

  8. Just to think about how many criminal players are move in silence in the world and Mexico

  9. There soo many real players around the globe who makes ndrangheta or triads looks like kids from the hood

  10. All my dealers are in jail. Now I know why.

    1. Not to worry, Shazam says they will be replaced in no time by another cartel.

  11. Excellent đź‘Ť catch glad they put a major dent, FBI is number one. This this one enpt Obrador, FBI was limited in this one, they went full throttle. Yippee our tax dollars at work.

  12. Updated with Link to US Warrant that has chat transcripts, photos sent on the platform and more information.

  13. no explanation of 32 tons in the article. just a couple to 4 here and there. back up details of 32 tons and where that comes from ?

    1. How about you tune in to the news at 5 pm.

    2. I have updated the article with a breakdown on the drugs seized. 22 Tons of Cannabis, 8 tons of Cocaine, 2 Tons of Meth.

  14. Gottem. Pew pew pew


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