By Stefan J. Bos
Officials from Europe's police organization Europol as well as the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Sweden, and the Netherlands confirmed one of the most extensive global crime-fighting operations in recent memory.
It included even providing phones to criminals who were made to believe that they offered secure communications.
In reality, the devices allowed police to listen in on the criminal's conversations. Officials said they were tracking some 12,000 devices over three years, and a whopping 27 million messages were decoded.
Some 300 crime networks were reportedly monitored across 100 nations. Europol Deputy Executive Director Jean-Phillipe Lecouffe said that gave police investigators crucial information. "This information led over the last week to hundreds of law enforcement operations on a global scale. From New Zealand and Australia to Europe and the USA," he told reporters.
Lecouffe added that the operations had "impresside results," with more than 800 arrests and more than 700 locations searched. Police seized more than 8 tons of cocaine, 22 tons of cannabis, two tons of synthetic drugs, and 6 tons of synthetic drugs' precursors, Europol said.
48 MILLION DOLLARS
In addition, police confiscated 48 million dollars in cash and cryptocurrencies, 250 firearms, and 55 luxury vehicles.
The officials did not break down all arrests in each country.
Still, a Swedish official said 70 had been detained in Sweden, while a Dutch official said 49 were arrested in the Netherlands.
Countries involved included Australia, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, New Zealand, Scotland, Britain, Germany, and the United States.
It came as a welcome breakthrough for law enforcement agencies that have faced increasingly sophisticated crime groups worldwide.
Global Police break International crime network
By Stefan J. Bos