According to Australian officials, the US and Australian investigators hacked into an app used by criminals to read millions of encrypted messages, leading to the arrest of hundreds of suspected organized crime figures in 18 nations.
According to the officials, "Operation Ironside" by Australian police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States caught suspects in the worldwide narcotics trade in Australia, Asia, South America, and the Middle East.
The operation "hit a significant blow against organized crime, not just in this country, but one that will reverberate around the world," according to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Morrison told reporters in Sydney, "This is a historic moment in Australian law enforcement history."
Police operations in 18 nations captured hundreds of suspects, according to Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw. Europol and the FBI announced on social media that news conferences will be held later.
Australia stated 224 people had been arrested, including members of illegal motorcycle gangs, while New Zealand stated 35 individuals had been held.
Officials in the United States took control of the AN0M messaging app, which is popular with organized criminal networks, as part of the operation, which was conceived by Australian police and the FBI in 2018.
Police were able to monitor the messages of an Australian underworld figure who began giving customized phones with the app to his associates as a secure way of communication. The gangs thought the technique was safe because the phones had no additional features, such as voice or camera capability, and the software was encrypted.
At the same press conference, Kershaw remarked, "We've been in the back pockets of organized crime." "All they talk about is drugs, violence, hits on each other, and the murder of innocent people."
He described the texts as brazen, with no attempt to hide behind any type of coding.