EncroChat Bust Leads to 6,558 Criminals' Arrests and €900 Million Seizure

Cyber Security Threat Summary:
On Tuesday, Europol announced that the takedown of EncroChat in July 2020 led to 6,558 arrests worldwide and the seizure of €900 million in illicit criminal proceeds. The operation was carried out by French and Dutch authorities which intercepted and analyzed over 115 million conversations made between approximately 60,000 users using the encrypted messaging platform. Using the information collected from the conversations, the agencies were able to:

  • Arrest 6,558 suspects, including 197 high-value targets
  • Confiscation of €739.7 million in cash
  • Freeze €154.1 million in assets or bank accounts
  • Seize 30.5 million pills of chemical drugs
  • Seize 103.5 tonnes of cocaine, 163.4 tonnes of cannabis, and 3.3 tonnes of heroin
  • Seize of 971 vehicles, 83 boats, and 40 planes
  • Seize of 271 estates or homes
  • Seize 923 weapons, as well as 21,750 rounds of ammunition and 68 explosives
Security Officer Comments:
EncroChat was a popular encrypted phone network used by cybercriminals to plot drug deals, launder money, etc. According to Europol, EncroChat would sell cyrpto telephones for around 1,000 EUR and also offered subscriptions with worldwide coverage for 1,500 EUR for a six-month period with 24/7 support. Since the platform incorporated features like the automatic deletion of messages and options to erase the devices from a distance by the reseller, EmcroChat would enable threat actors to coordinate malicious activities with anonymity, without worrying about the interception of law enforcement. However, In 2020, French and Dutch law enforcement authorities were able to successfully infiltrate the platform, giving them valuable insight into various cybercriminal groups and their operations., leading to the latest arrests and seizures.