Cops drill into chat apps, sink plot to smuggle tonnes of coke into Europe

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Video Efforts by cops to prehend and unopen down encrypted messaging apps favored by criminals, and past excavation their conversations for evidence, look to person led to much arrests — positive nan seizure of astir 2.7 tonnes of cocaine.

Europol connected Friday celebrated its "dismantling of a ample drug-trafficking organization," pursuing an investigation into a Balkan cartel that was suspected of smuggling coke into Europe from South America via sea. That Serbian-led constabulary effort included thief from Brazil, Croatia, France, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Slovenia.

Specifically, nan plod said nan cartel, which had been nether investigation since January 2022, was slinging "multi-ton cocaine shipments" from Brazil to nan EU utilizing a ample boat. We're told nan vessel's skippers had besides gone to West Africa to prep their trade for smuggling. Below is simply a video summary of nan raids carried retired against nan crime ring.

Youtube Video

"Operational intelligence pointed retired that nan skippers of Ukrainian and Czech nationality traveled respective times to Cabo Verde aliases different locations successful West Africa to hole their alloy for smuggling operations," nan European cops claimed.

"Recently uncovered operational accusation revealed that nan alloy was located successful Brazil."

This operational info, we're told, allowed Brazilian and Spanish cops to show nan ship, and an "action day" connected August 24 led to 15 location searches, six arrests, and nan seizure of 2.7 tonnes of charlie on pinch 2 high-end cars, luxury watches, and astir €550,000 ($593,000) successful cash.

International authorities besides froze a "large number" of slope accounts and ongoing existent property transactions arsenic nan financial investigation continues.

One of nan group arrested, a Serbian national, is described arsenic "one of nan main organizers" of nan cartel. Police said they monitored this suspect's engagement successful nan boatloads of rustle — on pinch nan Serbian's alleged cohorts — via encrypted messaging platforms.

From chat apps to arrests

Europol doesn't specify which chat app aliases aggregate apps they snooped astir connected to find nan alleged Serbian supplier lord. The cops do note, however, that "the takedown of 3 encrypted connection devices utilized by criminals, namely EncroChat, Sky ECC and ANOM, has fixed world rule enforcement an unprecedented penetration into criminal networks and really they function."

All 3 of these subscription-based, encrypted messaging services were besides infiltrated and unopen down by constabulary complete nan past fewer years. Criminals utilized these unafraid connection apps to scheme operations and hide them from nan prying eyes of rule enforcement.

Data gleaned from each of these services has since been utilized arsenic grounds to arrest thousands.

  • 'Top 3 Balkans supplier kingpins' arrested aft cops ace their Sky ECC chats
  • Cops' full pwnage of 'secure' EncroChat nets 6,500+ arrests, €740m successful costs – truthful far
  • Eurocops unopen down Exclu encrypted messaging app, apprehension dozens
  • UK cops people ineligible triumph successful EncroChat snooping op

These comms platforms besides highlighted "the important domiciled of criminal networks mostly composed of nationals of countries successful nan Balkan region play successful nan world cocaine trade," according to Europol. The snappily named Operational Taskforce Balkan Cartel, nan explanation nether which nan raids took place, was created successful consequence to this threat, we're told. 

This is astatine slightest nan 2nd specified cartel takedown since May that European constabulary person credited to an encrypted messaging app hack.

On May 11, constabulary arrested 3 group successful Belgrade described arsenic "the biggest" supplier lords successful nan Balkans, arsenic good arsenic 10 different suspects successful Serbia, and 10 alleged members of nan cartel successful Belgium, Serbia, Peru, and nan Netherlands, bringing nan full arrests to 23. 

Law enforcement credited past year's Sky ECC takedown pinch those arrests. ®