Over 6,500 arrested since police hacked into EncroChat servers
The cracking of the secure-communication service EncroChat, on which many criminals communicated, has so far led to 6,558 arrests worldwide. Among them were 197 suspects of the most serious crimes, the Dutch and French authorities announced Tuesday in a press conference in Lille, France.
Encrochat was dismantled in 2020, making messages that criminals sent each other via encrypted phones visible to investigative services. The crypto service’s servers were located in France and hacked into by the French investigative authorities. The Netherlands and France then set up a joint investigation team with the support of Eurojust and Europol. Since then, authorities have seized or frozen almost 900 million euros in criminal money.
Since cracking EncroChat, police experts have intercepted, shared, and analyzed over 115 million criminal conversations from over 60,000 users. The users mainly sent each other messages about the illegal drug trade and money laundering.
France and the Netherlands shared the intercepted information with other countries in the EU and beyond when requested. In the meantime, so many criminals have been convicted that courts have imposed a combined 7,134 years in prison.
It also led to massive drug seizures - 103.5 tons of cocaine, 163.4 tons of cannabis, 30.5 million pills, and 3.3 tons of heroin. The authorities also seized 971 vehicles, 271 homes, 83 boats, and 40 aircraft. 923 weapons have been seized.
A special department, known as an operational task force, has been set up at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague to process all the data. Experts and researchers work together there in investigations into the world’s biggest criminals. Europol has since supported the derivative investigations launched across the globe.
Reporting by ANP