Updates on Operation Venetic, the EncroChat Sting

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We follow up yesterday’s remarkable story with more details on Operation Venetic, the largest sting in UK police history. First up recapping from Zero Hedge:

UK police have arrested over 700 suspects, seized US$67 Million and over two tons of drugs after an international team broke the encryption on a not-so-secure app used by gangsters to coordinate money laundering, black market trade, human trafficking and murder-for-hire, according to the Independent.

“There were 60,000 users worldwide and around 10,000 users in the UK,” said the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) of the ongoing raids. “The sole use was for coordinating and planning the distribution of illicit commodities, money laundering and plotting to kill rival criminals.”

The secretive communications network was cracked in April, after agencies in France and the Netherlands cracked into the EncroChat app installed on mobile phones which was supposed to provide security against government infiltration and examination. Once the app was cracked, agencies began monitoring the gangsters’ “every move” according to the NCA.

“It is the biggest and most significant operation of its kind in the UK,” said a spokesperson.

While EncroChat’s website is no longer functional, an archived copy from March 2019 reveals features which attracted criminals, including self-destructing messages, panic wipe, password wipe, tamper proofing and ‘guaranteed anonymity.’

The Sun shares that this sting also snared police officials among the 746 crime figures:

TWO police officers have been arrested as part of a groundbreaking crime sting.

Cops foiled an international crime web seizing £54million cash, 77 firearms and two tonnes of drugs after cracking the network in an Enigma-sytle code break.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the National Crime Agency confirmed the arrest of two “law enforcement officers.”

The spokesperson said: “As part of Operation Venetic two law enforcement officers have been arrested and one has been interviewed under caution.

“Law enforcement expects the very highest standards of integrity and professionalism in its officers and where officers fail in this they will face the appropriate action.”

Operation Venetic took two months, involving officers from almost every force in the country.

The criminals were using, Encrochat – a military-grade encrypted communication system used by 60,000 people worldwide including 10,000 in the UK.

Updates on Operation Venetic, the EncroChat Sting
Cops uncovered drugs, money and firearms in the epic raid Credit: PA:Press Association

The Daily Mail looks into the various figures whose deaths were ordered on EncroChat:

The handsets and app – which cost £1,500 to rent for just six months – were cracked by an international police team during a two-month investigation.

But it can now be revealed before the system was compromised in Operation Venetic it was used in gangland murders and huge drug deals.

In 2019 Liverpool Crown Court was told EncroChat was used by hitman Mark Fellows to murder ‘Mr Big’ Paul Massey and John Kinsella.

Fellows – nicknamed Iceman for his cold ruthlessness – was tipped off by accomplice Steven Boyle via the encrypted phone service when Kinsella was coming into range.

When he was questioned about the unusual handset, he flippantly declared ‘No one even owns a normal phone these days’.

He executed Massey with an Uzi machine gun outside of his home in Salford in July 2015, hitting him five times on his doorstep.

Three years later mob enforcer and fixer Kinsella was murdered in a hail of bullets.

As he and Boyle were jailed for both killings Mr Justice Davis told him: ‘I have never had to deal with a contract killer of your kind before.

West Midlands Police took part in raids in Birmingham that netted criminal suspects

‘There are few judges who have. Just punishment in your case requires you to be kept in prison for the rest of your life.’

The Sun calls out the two prominent figures who were killed, as well.

We will continue to share updates as we get them.

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