Police have achieved a breakthrough in the interception and decryption of crypto communication
Police in the Netherlands and the Public Prosecution Service have achieved a breakthrough in the interception and decryption of encrypted communication between criminals. Criminals thought they could safely communicate with so-called crypto phones which used the application Ironchat. Police experts in the east of the Netherlands have succeeded in gaining access to this communication. As a result, the police have been able to watch live the communication between criminals for some time.
The server on which the encrypted communication took place was discovered after the police in the east of the Netherlands traced a supplier of the crypto phones in an investigation into money laundering. With these crypto phones, which cost thousands of euros, only text messages can be sent. As a result of using a separate computer server that encrypted the communication, the data traffic became invisible to the authorities.
The owner of the company, a 46-year-old man from Lingewaard, and his partner, a 52-year-old man from Boxtel, have been arrested. They are suspected of money laundering and participation in a criminal organisation. Their homes and the company premises have been searched. There have been searches in various places in the country.
Aart Garssen, Head of the Regional Crime investigation Unit in the east of the Netherlands says: ‘This operation has given us a unique insight into the criminal world in which people communicated openly about crimes’. ‘Obviously, this has led to some results. For example, we rolled up a drug lab in Enschede. In the course of this investigation we also discovered 90.000 euros in cash, automatic weapons and large quantities of hardrugs (MDMA and cocain). In addition, we became aware of a forthcoming retaliatory action in the criminal circuit.’, Garssen says.
Good information position
This operation started after we got sufficient concrete indications that a man from Lingewaard sold crypto phones to criminals. The police and the Public Prosecution Service take a hard line against people who help criminals by making their activities possible. Thanks to this operation, the police and the Public Prosecution Service have taken a good information position. More than 258,000 chat messages have been read and that yields a lot of information. This information can lead to decisive breakthroughs in on-going investigations. The data can also be used to start new criminal investigations. In this way, evidence has been obtained in on-going investigations and new criminal activities can be stopped.
Server and website offline
The server and website of the supplier of the crypto phones has now been taken offline. As a result, this important communication channel, with which criminals thought themselves to be unnoticed, belongs to the past.
We stopped the operation because we became aware that criminals were starting to suspect each other of leaking information to the police. This was causing safety risks. That’s why now we make clear that it was us acting upon information from the chats.