The Federal Criminal Police Office has presented an interim report on investigations into organized narcotics crime, which became possible because criminal investigators were able to crack the secure chat network Encrochat. Police said they had executed around 750 warrants in 2250 investigations. The suspects are said to have trafficked in a not insignificant amount of narcotics and to have formed a criminal organization. It is also about arms trading, corruption, money laundering and violent crimes. One in four suspects was armed, he said.
During searches, according to the BKA, nearly 3.2 tons of cannabis, about 320 kilograms of synthetic drugs, over 125.500 ecstasy tablets, almost 400 kilograms of cocaine and 10 kilograms of heroin were seized. In addition, the police seized around 310 firearms and more than 12.200 rounds of ammunition from circulation. In addition, asset freezes of about 168 million euros and advance asset protection of about 28 million euros had been obtained.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that investigators were able to read into the encrypted chat system. Since March 2020, the BKA had been investigating the users of cryptographic cell phones of the provider Encrochat on behalf of the General Public Prosecutor’s Office in Frankfurt am Main. In April 2020, the BKA received Encrochat data via Europol that showed a link to Germany. Previously, a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) of French and Dutch investigators, Europol and Eurojust had monitored the smartphones of the provider Encrochat.
Almost only criminal chats
BKA experts for IT forensics prepared the data technically. In doing so, they used automated procedures as well as the expertise of criminologists from various fields, the BKA explained. They found that the chats consisted almost exclusively of criminal content. Therefore, the BKA initially focused on identifying the people behind the usernames from several hundred thousand chat histories. The BKA has identified thousands of Encrochat users who logged on from Germany.
The BKA ames that the nationwide investigations will significantly weaken the structures of the criminal groups. The analysis of Encrochat data has given German law enforcement agencies a deep insight into the modus operandi and cooperation of organized drug crime groups in Germany.
Dutch investigators had been able to monitor an encrypted chat of criminals for the second time at the end of 2018. After that, Dutch together with Belgian and French investigators allegedly managed to infiltrate the encrypted communication service of the Canadian provider Sky ECC. The Australian Federal Police itself deployed an encrypted "encrypted communications service" on which thousands of suspects fell for.