An encrypted app that criminals have been using since 2018 was supposed to be the most impenetrable communication tool available. It was seen as a safe place to plot activities, manage illicit drugs, or even talk about murder without law enforcement getting involved.
It turns out that the ANoM app, which is a black-market only product accessible on prepared mobile devices, was being covertly monitored by Australia’s Federal Police (AFP) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for almost the entire time.
Australia announced that the intelligence gathered from the messages sent across the app led to over 220 arrests and more than 500 charges. The AFP seizes 3.7 metric tons of illicit drugs and about $35 million in cash during that time. Most of the individuals have links to the Italian mafia, Asian crime syndicates, and even motorcycle gangs.
The FBI Got the App from Its Developer
According to court documents released by the United States, the ANoM app was given to FBI agents in the San Diego office by the developer who made it. Officials haven’t released the person’s identity, but they did state that the individual was helping with ongoing investigations in return for a reduced sentence.
The top five countries where the app was used were Germany, Spain, Australia, Serbia, and the Netherlands.
People using the ANoM app were so confident in its security that they didn’t use pseudonyms or codes when communicating with others. Their brazen conversations would become the foundation for many of the charges levied as officials took down the organized crime network.
Over the three years the investigation was active, over 9,000 police officers in 18 different countries helped maintain the operation. Numerous news sites can help you to stay in touch with investigations like this.