The encrypted communications tool EncroChat, widely utilized by organized crime groups (OCGs), has been effectively dismantled, resulting in a significant breakthrough in law enforcement efforts worldwide.

In a joint operation led by French and Dutch authorities, supported by Eurojust and Europol, EncroChat was targeted, leading to an impressive tally of 6,558 arrests, including 197 High-Value Targets. Furthermore, nearly EUR 900 million in criminal funds have been seized or frozen. This blog post delves into the details of this groundbreaking operation and its profound impact on organized crime.

The dismantling of EncroChat in 2020 had far-reaching consequences for OCGs across Europe and beyond. Its takedown played a crucial role in thwarting violent attacks, preventing attempted murders, exposing corruption, and intercepting large-scale drug transports. Additionally, it provided invaluable insights into the operations of organized crime syndicates.

EncroChat had become a favored communication tool for criminal enterprises worldwide. Following its dismantling, investigators managed to intercept, share, and analyze an astounding 115 million criminal conversations, involving an estimated user base of over 60,000 individuals. Hotspots of EncroChat usage were identified in source and destination countries for illicit drug trade, as well as in money laundering hubs.

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The collaborative efforts of law enforcement agencies led to remarkable outcomes. Based on accumulated figures from the involved authorities, here are the results three years after law enforcement cracked the encryption:

  • 6,558 suspects apprehended, including 197 High-Value Targets
  • 7,134 cumulative years of imprisonment for convicted criminals
  • EUR 739.7 million in cash seized
  • EUR 154.1 million frozen in assets or bank accounts
  • 30.5 million pills of chemical drugs confiscated
  • 103.5 tonnes of cocaine seized
  • 163.4 tonnes of cannabis confiscated
  • 3.3 tonnes of heroin seized
  • 971 vehicles seized
  • 271 estates or homes confiscated
  • 923 weapons seized, along with 21,750 rounds of ammunition and 68 explosives
  • 83 boats and 40 planes seized
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The French Gendarmerie Nationale initiated investigations into the alleged criminal conduct of the company behind EncroChat in 2017. The discovery of the phones during operations against OCGs prompted a closer look into the tool’s functioning. It was revealed that the company operated through servers in France, leading to the successful placement of a technical device that bypassed the encryption technique and granted access to users’ correspondence.