Almost 28 tons of cocaine seized after police access an encrypted network

In the six weeks since February 20, police seized 27.64 tons of cocaine in the port of Antwerp, including a record shipment of almost 11 tons overnight from April 2-3, the Belgian Federal Police said in a statement Monday.

Police specialists gained access to encrypted messages from an encrypted messaging service called Sky ECC, which revealed detailed information about the cocaine shipments, the statement said.

“During a judicial investigation into a possible criminal service organization suspected of knowingly providing encrypted phones to the criminal environment, police specialists succeeded in decrypting Sky ECC’s encrypted messages,” the statement read.

“These data provide elements in current files, but they also opened new criminal offenses. International smuggling of cocaine batches plays a prominent role in intercepted reports.”

The cocaine seized so far has a street value of 1.4 billion euros ($ 1.65 billion), police said.

Police said investigations are continuing.

This is not the first time that law enforcement agencies have infiltrated an encrypted platform used by criminals.

Last year, agencies in France and the Netherlands infiltrated a platform called EncroChat and shared the data through Europol, allowing the police to monitor private communications, including photos and millions of messages, from criminals.

Hundreds Arrested After Police Infiltrated Secret Criminal Telephone Network

EncroChat, which offered a secure instant messaging service for mobile phones, was a “criminal market” used by 60,000 people around the world to coordinate the distribution of illicit goods, money laundering and the conspiracy to kill rivals, according to the Agency. UK National Crime Agency (NCA).

In July, the NCA said it had made 746 arrests and seized £ 54 million ($ 68 million) in cash, 77 firearms and more than two tons of drugs during Operation Venetic, the largest operation of its kind in the Kingdom. United.

Dutch police said they had made 60 arrests during their investigation, codenamed “Lemont,” and seized 25 tons of drugs, 20 million euros ($ 23 million), dozens of automatic weapons, 25 cars and watches. expensive.

In a joint press conference with European law enforcement agencies at the time, Dutch police said 19 synthetic drug laboratories had been dismantled.

EncroChat phones cost around £ 1,500 ($ 1,870) for a six-month contract and come with preloaded apps for instant messaging, the ability to make calls, and a wipe code so they can be remotely erased.

CNN’s Emma Reynolds contributed to this report.


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