Hundreds Arrested In Global FBI Sting Operation Using Undercover Messaging App 

Law enforcement agencies announced this week that hundreds of criminal gangs around the world have been divulging plans to move large drug shipments and carry out killings on a messaging app that was secretly being run by the FBI. The agency said that this was a “global sting operation that dealt an unprecedented blow to organized crime in countries around the world.”

The mission itself was known as operation Trojan Shield and led police to gangs in 16 nations. Over 800 suspects have now been arrested and over 32 tons of drugs were seized; including cannabis, cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines. Additionally, 250 firearms, 55 luxury cars, and more than $148 million in cash and cryptocurrency were seized. 

The operation initially started when law enforcement shut down EncroChat and Sky ECC, two encrypted platforms that were known for being used by criminals to communicate without worry of outside interference. 

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After these lines of communication were cut, the FBI developed their own covert app called ANOM that was installed onto modified phones. Over the past 18 months the FBI has been secretly providing phones using an unsuspecting middleman that infiltrated over 300 gangs operating in more than 100 countries. 

Calvin Shivers, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division, spoke at a news conference this week about the major operation. 

“Intelligence gathered and analyzed using this app enabled us to prevent murders. It led to the seizure of weapons and it helped prevent a number of crimes. The operation dealt with an unprecedented blow to criminal networks worldwide.”

“There was a void that was created by a lack of these encrypted platforms. So that created an opportunity for collaboration with our international partners, to not only develop the specific tool but also to develop the process of gathering the intelligence and disseminating the intelligence,” Shivers explained. 

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“The ANOM app became popular in criminal circles as users told one another it was safe. Meanwhile, the police were looking over their shoulders the whole time.”

According to a statement from Linda Staaf, the head of Sweden’s national criminal intelligence unit, “Swedish police prevented dozens of planned killings and have arrested what we believe to be leading actors in criminal networks.”

Finnish police reported that they have detained about 100 people and more than half a ton of confiscated drugs, along with hundreds of illegally owned guns and cash. German prosecutors reported more than 70 arrests in connection to the sting. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters the nation’s authorities “arrested 224 people and seized more than four tons of drugs and $35 million. Today, the Australian government, as part of a global operation, has struck a heavy blow against organized crime. Not just in this country, but one that will echo around organized crime around the world.”

“The success of Operation Trojan Shield is a result of tremendous innovation, dedication and unprecedented international collaboration. And the results are staggering,” Shivers proclaimed.

New York Times

New York Attorney General Investigating Trump Organization In A ‘Criminal Capacity’ 

Letitia James, New York’s Attorney General, has been conducting a civil probe into the Trump Organization for two years now. According to a spokesperson from James’s office, the attorney general is now looking into the company in a “criminal capacity.” 

“We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan District Attorney. We have no additional comment at this time,” said spokesperson Fabien Levy.

The New York Attorney General’s office initially launched a civil probe into the organization in 2019 after Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, testified to Congress. The initial probe was meant to investigate whether or not the Trump Organization “inflated the valuations of assets to reduce tax liability.” 

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has also been pursuing a separate criminal investigation since 2018 into hush money payments made by Cohen during the 2016 presidential campaign. Cohen apparently made hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, and Vance’s office began investigating the payments in 2018 to see if they would lead to other potential crimes such as fraud and tax evasion. 

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Both the district attorney and attorney general’s office’s have been crossing paths throughout the past two years due to their separate investigations into Trump, his lawyers, and organization. 

According to CBS News, “in February, Vance’s office issued subpoenas related to Mr. Trump’s Seven Springs Estate, in Bedford, N.Y. In an August 2020 court filing, the New York Attorney General’s office accused the Trump Organization of refusing to produce records sufficient to show how a $21.1 million apparent tax deduction in connection with the Seven Springs conservation easement was reflected on applicable tax returns.” 

James’ office was able to secure several depositions from many Trump Organization executives, including Eric Trump; Donald Trump’s son and executive vice president of the organization. Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer for the organization, was also recently called to give a deposition. 

Vance’s office has been in contact with Jennifer Weisselberg, who told the media that “investigators with the district attorney’s office have sought information about Allen Weisselberg, and documents related to the organization’s finances and benefits.”