Thirty arrests in the Netherlands after decryption of criminals’ communication

The police carried out 30 arrests and searched 75 homes and offices in the Netherlands on Tuesday after cracking the encrypted messaging service Sky ECC. 28 firearms have been seized in Rotterdam, the police announced on Tuesday.

Investigation services have managed to access hundreds of millions of messages from users of the encrypted messaging service Sky ECC. From mid-February, this encrypted traffic could be read live. The Sky ECC server was taken offline on Tuesday and seized by the Dutch authorities.

The police actions are part of the large-scale international investigation Argus that exposes the communication of criminal organizations. The investigation previously led to the interception of large quantities of hard drugs. It concerns international seizures of thousands of kilos of cocaine, heroin and hash.

In addition, several weapons have been seized, drug labs have been discovered and dismantled and millions of euros have been seized. 43 suspects were arrested in the Netherlands in the previous actions.

Police speak of superlative after EncroChat

The police speak of a hard blow to organized crime and say they have again achieved great success after the EncroChat hack in July 2020. The police even speaks of a “superlative”, because the police could read more messages this time than at the time. It now concerned more than 80 million messages, compared to 25 million previously.

Many people using EncroChat switched to Sky ECC late last year, according to police. About 11,000 Sky accounts are said to be used in the Netherlands and 70,000 worldwide. The action would have prevented serious violent crimes, including kidnappings, liquidations and shootings.

Also large-scale police action in Belgium

As part of the international investigation, large-scale arrests and house searches were carried out in Belgium on Tuesday. In total, more than 200 buildings were searched and 48 people arrested. More than 1.2 million euros were seized, as well as fourteen firearms.

“It is the largest action by the judicial police that has been carried out in our country so far,” the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office announced during an additional press conference.

The focus of the Belgian police investigation was in the Antwerp region. The port of Antwerp is a notorious hub for international drug trafficking.
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