Australian Federal Police and the FBI have smashed an industrial-scale drug trafficking ring in what’s being described as the plot of the century.
The audacious police sting targeted an encrypted communications app that was being secretly monitored by police, leading to hundreds of arrests of organised crime figures in 18 countries.
Mafia figures, bikies, South American drug cartels, Asian triads and Middle Eastern and European crime syndicates are alleged to be caught up in the sting.
Police said they uncovered 21 murder plots and seized more than 3,000 kilograms of drugs and $35 million in cash.
Over 800 suspected members of organised crime gangs were arrested and $148 million in cash seized in raids around the world. Tons of drugs were also seized, officials confirmed.
Police say they were using the trojan horse app ANOM that was operated by the FBI and secretly monitored by the Australian Federal Police.
The app was used by organised crime gangs around the world to plan executions, mass drug importations and money laundering.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the mass raids and arrests struck a heavy blow against organised crime.
The plan is said to have been hatched by an AFP tech guru in 2018, with the AFP planting pre-loaded mobile phones into the hands of criminals.
Investigators intercepted 25 million messages sent on the ANOM, viewing the communications in real time.
300 search warrants were carried out across Australia on Monday night, with simultaneous stings in the US and Europe, according to reports from the ABC.
Police say they have exposed the secret relationships between bikies and syndicates who were thought to be enemies.
“This is a watershed moment in Australian law enforcement history”
SYDNEY:The Prime Minister was joined by Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews, AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw and FBI Legal Attaché US Embassy Anthony Russo to speak on ‘Operation Ironside’, a three-year sting involving the FBI, organised crime and an encrypted app.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the operation had “struck a heavy blow against organised crime. Not just in this country, but one that will echo around organised crime around the world”.
“We have never taken our eye a day from the threats presented in this country”
Morrison has reiterated calls for stronger border security and anti-encryption laws off the back of Operation “Ironside.”
“The most significant policing operation in Australian history”
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews called Operation Ironside “the most significant policing operation in Australian history”.
Worldwide, 9000 law enforcement officials were involved in the operation, with over 4500 of those officials being Australian Federal Police.
Commissioner Kershaw said federal agents had been in the “back pockets” of criminals through the encryption app.
Commissioner Kershaw said federal agents have arrested some “of the most dangerous criminals in Australia”
Commissioner Kershaw confirmed criminal “kingmakers” have been arrested and AFP have prevented mass shootings.
The plan that began over beers
“Some of the best ideas come over a couple of beers,” AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said in his address to media on Tuesday.
The FBI’s representative Anthony Russo says he’s proud to represent the US and stand with his Australian colleagues.
“In today’s world, crime continues to transverse international borders. The threats we face are too diverse and too complex for any one organisation to tackle alone,”Russo said.
Travel bubble bursts between Australia and NZ
New Zealand has suspended its travel bubble with Australia
The nation has halted its travel bubble arrangements for at least eight weeks as Australia continues to battle against the delta variant of COVID-19.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern fronted the media and stated that “the Delta variant has materially changed the risk profile”.
From 11:59pm tonight, Australians will be unable to travel to New Zealand on a quarantine-free flight
This restriction will be in place for at least the next eight weeks.
The trans-tasman route is already closed to travellers flying into New Zealand from New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia as those states battle COVID-19 outbreaks.
Constant disruption to trans-Tasman travel bubble
Flights to New Zealand inside the bubble have been paused and restarted as different Australian states have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks.
“For the next seven days, we will have managed return flights for New Zealanders from all states and territories.
“National emergency” – Sydney in crisis as COVID cases rise
Sydney has declared a national emergency as COVID-19 cases rise across the Australian city
Sydney and the state of New South Wales is calling on the Australian Federal Government to “refocus the national vaccination strategy”.
As the delta variant of the virus spreads throughout the city, Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her government have declared a national emergency.
New South Wales Government officials say that the spreading of the virus is “threatening the safety of other states.”
They’ve encouraged people in virus-ravaged south-western and western Sydney to urgently “do their duty” and get vaccinated against coronavirus.
The Premier has stressed the importance of getting vaccinated as NSW records its highest daily number of COVID-19 cases today.
Meanwhile, Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant says Australia urgently needs to “correct the mythology about AstraZeneca”.
“There is no doubt that if we want to contain this virus and stop it seeping out to other parts of Greater Sydney, stop it impacting our freedom and our economy, but also stop it spreading to other states, we need to have a discussion about refocusing the national vaccination strategy,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
The issue will be addressed at today’s National Cabinet, she said.
At least 53 of today’s NSW cases were infectious in the community
Is a $52 billion boost enough to end a global chip shortage?
As the race to combat the global chip shortage continues the Biden administration is big to end the crisis
US President Joe Biden is preparing to spend $52 billion to boost the worsening shortage of semiconductor chips.
The White House is still waiting for congressional approval on the big spend but is pushing ahead with plans of how to invest the money wisely.
The Commerce Secretary says America “needs to incentivise the manufacturing of chips” if the country wants the crisis to end.
She added that officials have been speaking with the impacted industries on a daily basis which has helped address the shortage from the ground up.
Whilst there have been reports that the sector is gradually improving, but the car manufacturing sector may still be impacted by delays.
Biden recently called for Semiconductor chips to be produced locally in the US, but this company is ignoring his plea.
Construction will begin on the $4 billion Asian plant in 2023. This goes against the Biden administration’s wishes to return chip manufacturing to American soil.
The company will join rivals including ‘Samsung’ and ‘Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’ which are all also trying to address the current chip shortage.
The President has been under increasing pressure to secure a constant supply of this crucial tech that is used in so many modern devices.
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