In a recent global criminal sting operation many alleged organized criminals were arrested for using what they believed was a secure messaging app known as ANOM. This sting included Alleged hit men, drug rings, and arms dealers who believed they were using an exclusive and encrypted app to discuss deals and share photos.
Instead they were actually using devices and an app created by the FBI, EU law enforcement agencies, and Australian police, that was created to track their every move. More than 800 people were arrested earlier this month due to this bust. The sheer volume of illegal narcotics and other goods was staggering: eight tons of cocaine, 22 tons of marijuana, two tons of methamphetamines, and $48 million in international currencies.
The app, called ANOM, cost $1,500-2,000 to join for a six month service, and users had to be greenlighted by a current user to join the app. Encrypted apps such as Signal, Whatsapp, and Telegram have become more popular in recent years. While there are pros to encryption services in an age of surveillance and security breaches, it also allows for more nefarious activities to flourish.
“This was an unprecedented operation in terms of its massive scale, innovative strategy and technological and investigative achievement,” said Randy Grossman, acting U.S. Attorney, in a DOJ statement. “Hardened encrypted devices usually provide an impenetrable shield against law enforcement surveillance and detection. The supreme irony here is that the very devices that these criminals were using to hide from law enforcement were actually beacons for law enforcement.”
These users of ANOM were allegedly discussing drug concealment, money laundering, shipments of narcotics, and violent threats. There were even photos sent of cocaine stuffed inside pineapples and bananas. Every message on the app was essentially CC’d to the FBI where they would then investigate the messages for criminal activity.
Although the FBI appears to have a strong case, it is not clear how the FBI case will play out against each defendant. A sophisticated criminal defense attorney that understands Federal warrants and the complexities regarding electronic communications. If you or someone you know has been caught up in an FBI sting like the FBI ANOM sting operation. Then don’t hesitate to contact the attorneys at Dhar Law, LLP. Contact us today at 617 880-6155.