The FBI and Australian Federal Police (AFP) used an encrypted messaging app called “ANOM,” garnering over 200 arrested criminals on their biggest sting yet.

For over three years, the FBI and AFP carefully strategized a power move to arrest over 200 criminals. They developed an encrypted messaging platform called “ANOM” that does not require users to have inserted sim cards to send messages to anyone.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that a vast international crime sting operation in partnership with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and thousands of Australian police officers have been in the works for three years, and it has been a success.

The sting operation, called “Operation Ironside,” was able to trick hundreds of underworld figures into communicating with each other using “ANOM,” an encrypted messaging system developed solely for the sting itself.

FBI, AFP: All about ‘Operation Ironside’

On Monday, June 7, 2021, law enforcement agencies from Europe, Australia, and the U.S. organized in-house searches and arrested hundreds of criminal suspects. The crimes range from Australian biker gangs, drug cartels found in South America and Asia, weapons and human traffickers in Europe, and numerous murder cases from various areas.

According to The Record, the sting operation began in 2018 right after the FBI finally dismantled Phantom Secure, an encrypted chat platform that criminals of all types utilized.

With this information, they already had an idea that criminals would transfer to a new and more secured messaging platform. That’s why both the U.S. and Australian officials came up with the decision to develop their version of a chat application – and they called it “ANOM.”

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Similar to Phantom Secure, “ANOM” consists of secure smartphones designed only to run the messaging app and nothing else.

Watch the press conference here:

 “ANOM” spread through word of mouth and, of course, the anom.io website. As advertised, the messaging app allowed users to send encrypted voice messages and texts between devices, and the registered phone cannot have other installed applications to ensure security and utmost privacy.

The app does not require a phone number because each message runs via the “ANOM” central platform.

Because law enforcement agencies designed the app, they could intercept messages and decrypt each text. Messages found within the app included details of murder plots, drug movements, and human trafficking.

Over 200 Arrested Criminals

ABC Net reported the following statistical data on Operation Ironside from the Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Reece Kershaw:

  •  525 total charges
  •  224 charged criminals
  •  Six illegal laboratories have already been shut down
  •  104 weapons and firearms have been confiscated
  •  Almost $45 million cash have been retrieved
  •  21 death threats have been stopped

Commissioner Kershaw also stated that this is not the last of it. She added that the figures are more likely to increase over the next few days, and most of the arrested criminals will face multiple charges, which could result in life imprisonment.

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Written by Fran Sanders

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