European Authorities Also Confiscated 900 Million Euros Plus Drugs and Weapons
European police on Tuesday confirmed the arrests of more than 6,000 people who were formerly active in defunct encrypted messaging service EncroChat.
EncroChat shut itself down in 2020 when it discovered that Dutch and French police had penetrated its network in a joint operation. The messaging service offered modified smartphones with encryption capabilities to its subscribers and was primarily used by organized crime members to plan criminal activities.
Three years after its successful dismantling, French and Dutch police on Tuesday said the joint operation has led to the arrests of 6,558 individuals worldwide and the recovery by police of 900 million euros in criminal funds. Those detained include close to 200 high-level targets, said Europol, which assisted the French and Dutch authorities.
Law enforcement officials first began probing the service in 2017, and by April 2020, police had hacked into some users’ devices, allowing them to intercept encrypted messages and images.
In a press conference on Tuesday, investigating authorities revealed they had identified servers of the defunct app that were hosted in France using an intercepting device, details of which were withheld due to national security reasons. After analyzing the data, authorities uncovered operations of several criminals active on the platform.
“Given the extent to which the EncroChat services were used around the world, we intercepted and analyzed 150 million messages relating to activities of several criminal organizations,” French prosecutor Carole Etienne said. “This operation has resulted in major seizures of drugs, heavy weapons and hundreds of millions of euros.”
Although the authorities have identified the operators of the service, they say some members remain at large.