Intercepted messages helped police intercept 170,000 kg cocaine, dismantle 60 drug labs

The Dutch police have over 1 billion chat messages between criminals in their possession. Those messages helped them dismantle some 60 drug labs in the Netherlands, seize around 170,000 kilograms of cocaine, and confiscate 1,000 heavy weapons, AD reports based on figures from the police’s National Unit.

The police intercepted the data in seven crypto-communications investigations in recent years. In 2016 they seized the servers of Nijmegen company Ennetcom in Canada. That was followed by crypto communications platforms PGP Safe that same year, IronChat in 2018, Encrochat in 2020, Sky Ecc and Anom in 2021, and Exclu this year.

The deciphering and analysis of the over 1 billion encrypted messages, in which criminals thought they could communicate safely undisturbed, has already led to at least 10,000 arrests worldwide. And that counter continues to climb, Oscar Dros, police chief of the National Unit, told AD.

Dros described the intercepted messages as a gold mine in the fight against undermining crime. “The evidence is already there. We just have to look for the case,” he said. “This is really a game changer in our profession.”

These successful crypto-communication investigations inspired a new way of working in the police, Dros said. “We’re making all information available to the police accessible.” By placing all the data – much of which is currently still hidden in various police systems – in one place, police analysts and detectives can easily consult it.

“With all that information in one place, we’re golden. It offers unprecedented possibilities,” Dros said about the data warehouse the police are working on. “We live in a time where data is abundantly available. And that affects our view of police work. The importance of data is only increasing. Just like careful and ethical handling of it.”

“We are now going to work data-driven: we combine our operational expertise with technology and data. From now on, this will form the basis of our police work, for example, combating serious organized crime and terrorism,” the National Unit chief said.

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