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EncroChat bust leads Europol to over 6,500 arrests

EncroChat dismantling continues to benefit law enforcement agencies, as access to the communications app favored by criminals provides comprehensive data for prosecution.

The dismantling of the encrypted communications tool EncroChat, widely used by organized crime groups (OCGs), has led to 6,558 arrests worldwide. 197 of those arrested were high-value targets,” Europol said.

Released in 2016, EncroChat was widely used by members of organized crime all over the globe. Law enforcement infiltrated the chat sometime in the early spring of 2020, leading to the service’s demise in June of the same year.

Europol claims that the operation helped to prevent a variety of crimes, such as attempted murders and large-scale drug transport, while providing a trove of information on organized crime groups.

Authorities accessed over 115 million criminal conversations from an estimated pool of 60,000 users. According to the statement, user hotspots were prevalent in source and destination countries for the trade in illicit drugs and money laundering.

The EncroChat infiltration led to authorities seizing €739.7 million ($810.6 million) in cash, 103.5 tonnes of cocaine, 163.4 tonnes of cannabis, 3.3 tonnes of heroin, 83 boats, and 40 planes and other assets held by criminal organizations.

EncroChat was tailor-made for criminal organizations, claiming to guarantee anonymity and no traceability to its users. Service providers sold cryptographic devices for around €1,000 ($1,100) each. The administrators offered subscriptions with worldwide coverage.

“Subsequent investigations established that the company behind the tool was operating via servers in France. Eventually, it was possible to place a technical device to go beyond the encryption technique and obtain access to users’ correspondence,” Europol said.

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