Four arrested; €1 million seized in encrypted phone investigation

Dutch police Arrest team
File photo of a Dutch police arrest team (photo: Politie)File photo of a Dutch police arrest team (photo: Politie)

The police arrested four people and seized 1 million euros in cash in an investigation into providers of smartphones that encrypt communication data. Investigators believe the suspects sold these encrypted phones to criminals, RTL Nieuws reports.

The encryption makes it harder for the authorities to listen in on conversations or read text messages from a distance. This trait makes encrypted phones extremely popular among criminals who want to hide their communication from the police.

Arrests were made in Diemen, Berkhout and Huizen on Tuesday. The million euros in cash was found in a building on Plantage Muidergracht in Amsterdam. According to Het Parool, this is the home of the prime suspects in the investigation. Houses and office buildings were raided in Amsterdam, Almere, Huizen, Zandvoort, Koggenland and Zeewolde by the police's High Tech Crime team. 

The Tax authorities' investigative department FIOD also participated in the raids. They seized accounting documents at two administrative offices. 

In March the police took a Nijmegen telecom business off the air after managing to break through the encryption on specialized Blackberry phones. This gave the authorities access to some 3.6 million messages, most of which were sent by criminals, the Prosecutor said at the time. A spokesperson for the police told RTL that this case is not connected to the raids on Tuesday.