How the FBI and police used the Anom app to make 35 arrests in New Zealand and target hundreds more around the world. Video / AFP
Police seized an Uzi submachine gun, six handguns, a Glock pistol, methamphetamine and clothing patched by headhunters from a south Auckland storage locker last night as part of an ongoing attack on the organized crime.
More than $ 5 million in assets and money were stranded this week as part of police operations Seltos, Van and Equinox after searches of various sites, including the headquarters of the Waikato Comancheros cycling gang.
The operations are linked to the global law enforcement operation, Operation Trojan Shield, which instigated organized crime networks to use encrypted communications devices monitored by the FBI.
As part of Operation Seltos, police last night executed a warrant in a Manukau storage locker seizing six revolvers, a Glock pistol, an Uzi submachine gun and ammunition.
A 27-year-old man has been arrested and charged with illegal possession of firearms, said Greg Williams, director of the National Organized Crime Group.
He appeared today in Manukau District Court. Further charges regarding the seized property are likely, police said.
The guns were found with about half a kilogram of methamphetamine and as yet unidentified pills.
These items were found alongside a Head Hunter biker gang crest and gang clothing.
Since June 7, when Operation Spyglass ended, police have executed dozens of search warrants resulting in the arrest of 36 people charged with a wide range of serious drug offenses, d guns and money laundering.
Four motorcycles were also immobilized at the headquarters of Waikato Comancheros.
To date, more than $ 5 million in assets and money have been stranded by police during the raids.
This figure is updated from the initial $ 3.7 million calculated on Tuesday.
“Police will continue to target organized criminal groups and those in possession of illegal firearms. We want to make sure our communities are resilient and feel safe, ”said Williams.
“While the operation is underway, the police are not ruling out further arrests, restrictions or charges. Every weapon like this that the police remove from gangs makes our communities safer.”
Global Police’s ‘Sting of the Century’ Continues
The latest police seizures in New Zealand this week follow a major international operation targeting global organized crime that was announced on June 9 by the FBI and Europol.
The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said that together with the Australian Federal Police (AFP), authorities had “turned the tide” against criminals and organized crime groups after deceiving them into using a encrypted secret application.
In 16 countries, including New Zealand, more than 800 suspects have been arrested, eight tons of cocaine seized and more than $ 51 million recovered, officials have confirmed.
Europol, including members of the Dutch National Police (Politie) and Swedish Police
(Polisen), boasted of having carried out “one of the largest and most sophisticated law enforcement operations to date in the fight against encrypted criminal activity.”
They warned that “serious criminals mistakenly believe that they can operate anonymously and out of the sight of the police and that they cannot be caught.”
Operation Ironside was formed three years ago as part of a collaboration between AFP and the FBI to bring down underworld figures.
Austria, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Great Britain and the States United joined Australia.
On Monday, more than 300 New Zealand police officers executed 37 search warrants across the North Island. At least 35 people appeared in Auckland and Hamilton district courts yesterday on nearly 1,000 drug trafficking and money laundering charges.
Others are expected to appear today.
Senior members of the Waikato Comancheros, Waikato Mongrel Mob and headhunters were among those arrested.
The raids seized 566g of methamphetamine, large bags of cannabis, many kilograms of iodine, four guns, 14 vehicles, including two boats, cell phones and more than $ 1 million in cash.
Nearly 9 kg of methamphetamine had also been seized at the border during investigations related to the joint operation.
Calvin Shivers, deputy director of the FBI’s criminal investigations division, said the attack, dubbed Operation Trojan Shield by the FBI and Europol, involved more than 9,000 police officers in 16 countries.
“Criminals and criminal organizations often use encrypted platforms to protect their illicit activities from law enforcement,” Shivers said.
“These platforms help criminals facilitate and coordinate drug trafficking, violent assaults, murder, public corruption, money laundering and many other crimes committed around the world.
Over 300 New Zealand personnel – including members of the National Organized Crime Unit, Armed Offender Squad, Special Tactics Group, Asset Recovery, High Tech Crime and staff from Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Central and Wellington District – executed 37 warrants on Monday.
Over 900 charges have been laid. Others will be arrested, said Detective Superintendent Greg Williams of the National Organized Crime Group.
One of the police operations linked to the Trojan Shield – dubbed Operation Van – had specifically targeted the transnational organized criminal group linked to the Comancheros.
“It’s a mind blowing job,” said Williams.
“It’s a big day for New Zealand.
“We believe that the end of these operations will have a significant impact on the organized crime scene in New Zealand.”
The Trojan Shield raids also revealed that senior members of the Comancheros gang had purchased a catamaran and reportedly planned to go to sea with a “mother ship” bringing large shipments of illicit drugs to New Zealand.
Details of the failed drug trafficking plan emerged after the Trojan Shield ended – described as the “coup of the century” and a blow to New Zealand’s criminal fraternity.
These were three major organized crime investigations targeting the import, sale and supply of Class A drugs, as well as money laundering activities.
The incredible ploy – said to have been concocted by an Australian Federal Police officer over beers with his FBI comrades – also resulted in hundreds of overseas arrests and uncovered 21 murder plots.
So how did they do it?
In front of the media in Auckland, Williams said the FBI recently dismantled several crypto platforms criminals were using to communicate, including Phantom Secure, which was based in Canada in 2018 and Sky Global earlier this year.
Operation Trojan Shield saw the FBI create a closed-ended crypto company called Anom to fill that void, allowing investigators to eavesdrop on criminal communications about drug trafficking and money laundering activity around the world.
For over 18 months, criminal Anom users unconsciously communicated about the system operated by FBI agents.
“Users believed their Anom devices were protected from law enforcement by the shield of impenetrable encryption.”
New Zealand Police began working with the FBI on the operation in January 2020 to monitor communications from users of the platform here in New Zealand.
Globally, the operation involved at least 300 criminal networks, more than 45 languages and at least 27 million encrypted messages.
New Zealand investigators monitored thousands of messages sent to 57 encrypted criminal devices.
Interagency intelligence led to the launch of two local operations targeting drug and money laundering offenses.
One of the operations – dubbed Operation Van – specifically targeted the transnational organized criminal group linked to the Comancheros.
Williams said the group planned to import “huge amounts” of methamphetamine and cocaine into New Zealand on a mothership, which would be taken in by smaller boats at sea and the drugs brought ashore. for distribution.
“This shipment never made it to New Zealand.”
The Comancheros bought a catamaran to carry out the offshore marine rendezvous.
But intelligence information gleaned from the police operation revealed the plan to investigators, and police intervened.
The catamaran was seized in Tauranga, where it is still in custody.
Members of the Comancheros linked to the alleged plot are among those arrested this week.
Another operation that emerged from Trojan Shield was Operation Equinox, which targeted members of the Waikato Comancheros and the Waikato Mongrel Mob Kingdom.
The gang members are said to have worked with offshore criminal entities to import large amounts of methamphetamine and MDMA which were distributed throughout New Zealand.
Over the past three years, New Zealand police have identified as many as 20 organized crime groups committing offenses across international borders, Williams said.
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This notice was published: 2021-06-11 05:31:51