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June 2021


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

FBI Secretly Ran Encrypted Communications Platform, Leading to Hundreds of Arrests Worldwide

Photo: FBI

By Steve Neavling

The FBI secretly ran an encrypted communications platform that led to the arrests of hundreds of suspected members of criminal networks in a global sting dubbed “Operation Trojan Shield.”

The suspects believed they were communicating with total secrecy using the platform Anom. But it turns out, the FBI created the platform and supplied more than 12,000 devices to hundreds of criminal organizations around the globe, the bureau reveled Tuesday.

Each message generated a carbon copy that was sent to the FBI to assess and analyze. 

“Encrypted devices have been and continue to be a safe haven for criminal organizations, in particular the leadership of these organizations – providing them a platform for their communications that we have not had access to,” FBI San Diego Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jamie Arnold said in a news release. “For the agents on the investigative team and our federal and international partners, this was a creative and innovative way for us to get behind that firewall and see what was happening among the leadership of these criminal organizations.” 

More than 800 suspects were arrested, and authorized seized thousands of kilograms of narcotics and millions of dollars in proceeds from criminal activity.

“Criminal groups using encrypted communications to thwart law enforcement should no longer feel safe in that space,” Arnold said. “We hope criminals worldwide will fear that the FBI or another law enforcement organization may, in fact, be running their platform.” 

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