| 15.8°C Dublin

off the stage Ireland out in cold as Europe celebrates FBI double cross on organised crime networks

Decisions made by senior management of An Garda Siochana surrounding the use, or non-use of Encrochat intelligence has strategically placed us as an outrider.

Close

Map published by Europol showing countries - not including Ireland - involved in latest crime busts.

Map published by Europol showing countries - not including Ireland - involved in latest crime busts.

Map published by Europol showing countries - not including Ireland - involved in latest crime busts.

The top brass lined out one after the other with powerful statements for the gangs and kingpins involved in organised crime hours after news broke that the latest encrypted phone network to be hacked was actually created and administered by the FBI.

Hot on the heels of the Encrochat and Sky ECC takedowns, criminals are again counting the costs of their so called ‘bullet proof’ mobile phone systems.

The busted Anom network, co-ordinated by the FBI and Australian law enforcement partners, has seen 800 arrests, the seizure of 32 tons of cocaine, cannabis and meth, 250 firearms and $48 million of dirty money.

“This is a watershed moment in global law enforcement,” said Jennifer Hurst of Australia’s Federal Police. Linda Staaf, Sweden’s Head of Intelligence described it as ‘the most important strike ever against organised crime.”

She went on to describe the takedown of Encrochat as a ‘game changer.’ Taking to the stage Janine Van Den Berg – a police chief from the Netherlands declared ‘we’ve done it again.’

Watching the news conference held in Europol’s headquarters in The Hague this morning I had a sinking feeling and an awful sense that something very special is happening which we are not part of.

Ireland is simply not at this party and decisions made by senior management of An Garda Siochana surrounding the use, or non-use of Encrochat intelligence has strategically placed us as an outrider.

I’d been reading the earlier details of the enormous sting operation, the stuff of movies, coming out of Australia and New Zealand where criminal networks and biker gangs have been taken down in their droves and from FBI San Diego who developed the actual phone network system which lured those knocked off their communication tools when Sky ECC was broken up earlier this year.

As the press conference got underway a map on a screen in the corner detailed the 16 territories involved in this most sensational of all battles against criminal networks.

Close

Map published by Europol

Map published by Europol

Map published by Europol

Highlighted in a bright turquoise was the lead nation of the US and 16 other participating coalition nations of Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK including Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

The map is depressing.

Where is Ireland and why An Garda Siochana, under the stewardship of former RUC and PSNI officer Drew Harris, are not actively involved in an operation that has involved our nearest neighbour and indeed the north which is an invisible border when it comes to criminal gangs.

Have we left the international stage when it comes to policing?

And where does that leave us in the fight against organised crime which is a truly global plague coming at us at unprecedented rates.

Do our politicians just accept this without question or should we be looking for serious answers from our Garda chief around their decision making process.

Close

A bag of marijuana seized in the operation (New Zealand Police via AP)

A bag of marijuana seized in the operation (New Zealand Police via AP)

A bag of marijuana seized in the operation (New Zealand Police via AP)

When I asked for a podcast I made about the Encrochat phone hack I was told that the Gardai were ‘waiting for the bigger picture’ but this is it, here and now.

Operation Trojan Shield is a massive success for law enforcement. It will go down in history as Hurst says as a ‘watershed moment’.

Each speaker on Europol’s stage sang the same song – the only way to police organised crime is to work together and to hit back with shared intelligence and co-operation.

Calvin Shivers the FBI’s Assistant Director told how the San Diego branch developed Anon in 2018 working with it’s Australian partners and planted it within organised crime by purporting to be a ‘legitimate’ encrypted communication company.

“Encrypted criminal communications platforms have traditionally been a tool to evade law enforcement and facilitate transnational organized crime.

Close

A large amount of cash which was seized during a police raid (New Zealand Police via AP)

A large amount of cash which was seized during a police raid (New Zealand Police via AP)

A large amount of cash which was seized during a police raid (New Zealand Police via AP)

The FBI and our international partners continue to push the envelope and develop innovative ways to overcome these challenges and bring criminals to justice,” he said, adding: “We’ve turned the tables.”

Headed up in Europe by the Dutch and Swedish but supported by all the other countries, the press conference heard how Anom grew to service more than 12,000 encrypted devices and 300 criminal syndicates operating in over 100 countries, none of whom knew they were actually using a network developed and controlled by police.

In the past 18 months the police forces have sifted through 27 million messages and over the past days officers moved in. Countless spin off operations will be carried out in the weeks and months to come.

A Crime World special about the Encrochat hack is available on all podcast platforms.


Privacy