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US charges 17 foreigners with providing encryption devices to criminal groups

Washington: A two-day FBI sting using a fake company that sold encryption devices and resulted in hundreds of arrests worldwide culminated with a US indictment of 17 foreign nationals that sold the equipment to criminal syndicates, the Justice Department said.

“For the first time, the FBI operated its own encrypted device company, called ‘ANOM,’ which was promoted by criminal groups worldwide,” Justice said in a press release on Tuesday. “These criminals sold more than 12,000 ANOM encrypted devices and services to more than 300 criminal syndicates operating in more than 100 countries.”

Buyers included Italian organized crime, Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, and various international drug trafficking organizations, according to court records cited by the Justice Department.

The indictment unsealed late on Tuesday followed a wave of more than 500 arrests that began in Australia and stretched across Europe, the Justice Department said.

The indictment charges 17 alleged distributors of the FBI’s ANOM devices with conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the Justice Department added.

During the investigation, criminal groups used ANOM equipment to plan drug deals, launder money and sometimes issue threats, believing that their communications were hidden from law enforcement, according to the Justice Depart.

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