George ‘The Penguin’ Mitchell’s encrypted phone service hacked by police as 45 arrested

Arrests took place in the Netherlands and Belgium with 79 locations searched there and in Germany and Poland.

George 'The Penguin' Mitchell at the cyber bunker in Germany

George Mitchell's alleged cyber bunker

George 'The Penguin' Mitchell

Herman Xennt and George Mitchell in Germany

Nicola TallantSunday World

An encrypted phone service strongly linked to George ‘The Penguin’ Mitchell has been hacked by police over five months leading to 45 arrests, the discovery of two drug labs, €5.5 million in cash and 20 firearms.

Police have yet to confirm if Mitchell is amongst those in custody in relation to the dismantling of the Exclu network.

It is understood 3,000 users to the service were promised a bullet-proof communications system by Mitchell and his sidekick Herman Xennt who is in jail for his role in a dark web bunker.

Arrests took place in the Netherlands and Belgium with 79 locations searched there and in Germany and Poland.

Eurojust, the umbrella agency of EU law enforcement, said that Dutch authorities used their specific expertise in cybercrime communications to follow criminal networks using the service over a period of five months.

Investigations began in 2020 after a mammoth trial centering on activities in an underground bunker in Germany got underway.

At the so called ‘Cyberbunker’ trial, it was heard that George Mitchell was a regular visitor there and was developing the phone system with his friend and business partner, the self professed lord of the dark net Herman Xennt.

The Sunday World photographed the pair in Traben Trarbach in 2015 when we tracked down Mitchell after a 20 year absence.

Herman Xennt and George Mitchell in Germany

The NATO cold war bunker was raided in 2019 by more than 600 police after a lengthy investigation into dark net activity there.

Servers and computers were confiscated during the raid and the trial heard that passwords were also found written down in the building.

Mitchell never faced trial in relation to the bunker but he was the top target of German police and his phones were bugged.

Warrant applications to the court to secure the recordings revealed just how Mitchell is regarded on the international scene.

Secret police files revealed how officers in Europe believe that Mitchell deals directly with Colombian cartels, supplies drugs and weapons to Northern Ireland, imports tonnes of cocaine into Europe, floods Holland with heroin and is under investigation for money laundering in Spain.

Mitchell and Xennt were plotting to open a number of encrypted phone networks together and hoped to make a fortune from criminal groups across the world.

George Mitchell's alleged cyber bunker

Mitchell is understood to have sunk a €150,000 investment into the technology which Xennt assured him was unbreakable.

However this week more than 3,000 users of the service learned that all their material has been shared with police.

An enormous 1,200 police officers were deployed to conduct the searches and arrests this week.

The dismantling of Exclu follows the successful hacks into the EncroChat and Sky ECC networks in 2020 and 2021.

In June 2021, it was announced that American law enforcement had taken over the servers of Anon.

Police say the arrests were made up of suspects who have used Exclu along with owners and operators of the service.

Mitchell is one of the most wily criminals of his generation.

He left Ireland in 1994 before the establishment of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) and under threat from paramilitaries.

He set up in Amsterdam, where he grew an enormous drugs and weapons operation that he still runs to this day.

In recent years he has become so paranoid about his own health that he has been concentrating on attempts to launder and spread his funds around the globe so he can leave a legacy to his children, wife and partner.

George 'The Penguin' Mitchell

Despite his wealth, George Mitchell lives a low-key existence moving around Europe.

For the majority of the last two decades he has lived in an ordinary two-bed apartment in Spain while driving a second-hand car.

He speaks to associates in well-established code and shows known of the brash signs of wealth of the current breed of dealers.

Sources say he is first and foremost a family man who dotes on his children and his partner, his former secretary who he met in Holland and who he lives with.

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