On Monday, the Belgian Federal Police released a statement explaining that it has been conducting a six week investigation that began in February focusing on the port of Antwerp. 27.64 tons of cocaine was taken by police throughout the operation—including a record shipment of almost 11 tons which was seized by police on April 3. Altogether, the drugs were worth an estimated street value of $1.65 billion.
Police learned of the elaborate cocaine shipment process by gaining access to an encrypted messaging service called Sky ECC. The access revealed information regarding the shipment and other details of the trafficking operation.
“During a judicial investigation into a potential service criminal organization suspected of knowingly providing encrypted telephones to the criminal environment, police specialists managed to crack the encrypted messages from Sky ECC,” the statement explains. “This data provides elements in current files, but also opened up new criminal offenses. The international smuggling of cocaine batches plays a prominent role in intercepted reports.”
Police have been forced to infiltrate encrypted messaging services in the past. Last year, agencies in France and the Netherlands made their way into a platform called EncroChat and shared the data via Europol. This allowed the police to monitor the activities of criminals in the messenger who believe their communication is private.
Despite record-breaking busts and disclosing the investigation to the public, authorities claim that the investigation will continue.