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$148 million seized in global crackdown on organised crime

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$148 million seized in global crackdown on organised crime

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.

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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

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”.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews

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 on the criminal arrests.

Commissioner Kershaw said criminal gangs are targeting Australia because “it’s one of the most profitable countries in the world to sell drugs.”

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 had the lead on this. We provided the technical capability to decrypt those messages,”

AFP Commissioner Kershaw.

The FBI’s representative Anthony Russo says he’s proud to represent the US and stand with his Australian colleagues.

Legal Attaché US Embassy Anthony Russo

“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.

Business

Sleepover at IKEA: dozens stranded amid snowstorm in Denmark

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Two dozen staff and six customers were forced to stay the night at IKEA as up to 30 centimetres of snow trapped them inside

A furniture showroom in the department store in Aalborg, Denmark, became the bedroom of several people who were unable to safely make it home in time amidst a strong snowstorm.

Store Manager Peter Elmose told the Ekstra Bladet tabloid that people could “pick the exact bed they always have wanted to try.”

People working in a toy shop next door also took to the department store to join in on the fun.

Michelle Barrett, one of the toy shop staff, told Denmark’s public broadcaster, DR, “it’s much better than sleeping in one’s car. It has been nice and warm and we are just happy that they would let us in.” 

“We just laughed at the situation, because we will probably not experience it again,” she added.

Another approximate 300 people had to stay the night at the Aalborg airport to keep out of the storm. 

According to Euronews, the IKEA sleepover consisted of feasting on chips and Swedish cinnamon rolls in the staff canteen before watching television.

“It was a really nice evening, enjoying each other’s company,” Elmose told AFP. 

“Everyone had a full night’s sleep, our mattresses are good.”

And when the shop reopened for business the next morning, all the bedding and sheets had of course been changed.

Unmade beds following the overnight stay at IKEA amid snowstorm. Source: IKEA Aalborg’s Instagram

This comes after 61 people were trapped in a Yorkshire pub for three nights last week.

The several people trapped in the Tan Hill Inn during the storm slept on makeshift beds on the floor, watched movies, had a quiz night and enjoyed a buffet meal.

Some guests even claimed they didn’t want to leave the the pub after enjoying the 17th century hotel’s hospitality.

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World

Hong Kong to launch China style system

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As Hong Kong and China prepare to resume quarantine-free travel, Hong Kong’s government will introduce a Beijing-style health code from December 10

The Hong Kong Health Code will take note of a user’s real name, address and identification number.

The voluntary app is designed to be compatible with systems in both Macau and Guangdong provinces in southern China.

In mainland China, a mandatory health code dictates where residents and visitors can travel to and from, sharing real-time data with authorities.

The introduction of this health code system in Hong Kong will allow Chinese officials to open back up the nation’s borders with the city-state.

Hong Kong’s chief information officer also says records “won’t be transferred to mainland authorities unless the person is infected or has been a close contact”.

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World

Meghan Markle wins latest privacy battle case

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A UK court dismissed the appeal brought on by Associated Newspapers Limited, after the company published a letter that she sent to her father, Thomas Markle in 2018.

ANL and the Mail have staunchly denied that they have done anything wrong, standing by the decision to publish the letter.

But the court rejected these claims, and says the Duchess has “a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of the letter.”

The judge continued, adding “the contents were personal, private and not matters of legitimate public interest”.

ANL says it is disappointed with the decision and is considering an appeal to the UK’s Supreme Court.

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