How the AFP and FBI cooked up the idea of AN0M over a 'couple of beers'

www.abc.net.au
5 min read
standard
The idea to put a digital Trojan horse in the pocket of Australia's alleged most dangerous criminals began three years ago "over a couple of beers". It ended with more than 200 underworld figures behind bars.
The idea to put a digital Trojan horse in the pocket of Australia's most dangerous criminals began three years ago after the crackdown on other modified, encrypted smartphones.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had worked together to shut down Phantom Secure in 2018, a Canadian company that sold thousands of the devices to Australians so they could be used by criminals.

The company had taken BlackBerry phones and stripped out the cameras, microphones and navigation features and installed encrypted messaging software which made them difficult for law enforcement to track.

Those devices were distributed from US, Mexican and other cartels as a platform to be used by criminal networks.

Reece Kershaw addressed the media as Scott Morrison looks on. ( AAP: Dean Lewins

Operation Ironside stats 4,500 Australian officers involved

4,500 Australian officers involved 500 search warrants executed

500 search warrants executed 224 people charged with more than 525 offences

224 people charged with more than 525 offences 104 firearms seized

104 firearms seized $45 million in assets and cash seized

$45 million in assets and cash seized 3.7 tonnes of drugs taken from syndicates

3.7 tonnes of drugs taken from syndicates 33 countries involved

The crackdown of Phantom Secure and removal of the devices from circulation meant there was a "vacuum", as the AFP put it.

"Some of the best ideas come over a couple of beers," AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw remarked at a media briefing on Tuesday, referring to the circumstances around…
Tim Swanston
Read full article