Phone EncroChat Photos encrosafe, Twitter
“It was like we were sitting at a table where the criminals were talking to each other.”
The European Union Police Service (Europol) reported on a major operation that led to the arrest of hundreds of people involved in the drug business, murders and arms trafficking. Law enforcement agencies have been able to crack the encrypted EncroChat network through which suspected criminals communicate.
“Modified Android devices”
Vice describes EncroChat phones as “modified Android devices.” The company took the basic models of phones, installed in them its own messaging programs that route data through the company’s servers. GPS, cameras and microphones have been removed from devices.
Clients could erase all data from a smartphone by entering a certain code, as well as launch two operating systems. “If the user wants the device to look harmless, then it loads regular Android. If he wants to enter secret chats, then he switches to the EncroChat system, ”writes Vice. The company sold devices by subscription, which cost a thousand dollars a year.
What does EncroChat look like
“It was like we were sitting at a table where the criminals were talking among themselves.”
Police began an investigation in 2017. Initially, it was held in France, since EncroСhat servers were located there, and later other European states also connected to it.
Law enforcement agencies managed to hack into the system and gain access to the “millions” of user messages that she monitored in real time. “We seemed to be sitting at a table where the criminals were talking to each other,” said Jeannine van den Berg, head of the Dutch national police.
Vice in an investigation about EncroChat claims that netizens “openly spoke and agreed on transactions in the smallest detail, with price lists, customer names and direct links to a large number of drugs they sell.” Interlocutors of the publication said that the detentions took place throughout Europe, and netizens were perplexed as to how the police managed to reach the suspects.
In June 2020, EncroChat informed customers that the system was hacked and recommended getting rid of the devices. At that moment, the interception of messages stopped, Europol explained.
Hundreds of arrests, tons of drugs and millions of euros in cash
Police managed to arrest suspects in the UK, Norway, Sweden, France, and the Netherlands. The British National Crime Agency (NCA) claims 746 people have been detained in the country: “This is the largest and most significant operation of its kind in the UK.”
In addition, 54 million pounds in cash, two tons of drugs, dozens of weapons, “expensive” cars and “luxury” watches were seized. Police believe she managed to prevent kidnappings and killings by rival gangs. According to the NCA, in the world 60 thousand people use EncroChat, 10 thousand of them in the UK.
Netherlands police have reported the detention of more than a hundred suspects, the destruction of 19 synthetic drug laboratories, the seizure of 8 tons of cocaine, 1.2 tons of crystalline methamphetamine, dozens of firearms, cars with secret compartments and almost 20 million euros in cash.
Europol claims that although EncroChat has stopped working, the consequences of the operation will still affect the criminals, since there is enough information to initiate new cases.