THE LARGEST GLOBAL CRIME BUST IN HISTORY

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Operation Trojan Shield, a sweeping police sting, has led to the arrest of over 800 suspected criminals in 16 countries across the globe and is being called the largest gang and drug bust of all time. The global operation was originally conceived in a partnership between Australia and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after two other encrypted platforms in the black market were shut down by law enforcement agencies. To fill the rising demand for new forms of secure communication in the criminal underworld, the FBI developed a network of encrypted messaging devices called ANOM. The devices could not place calls or send emails but could only be used to communicate with others on the same platform. Authorities even charged a monthly subscription fee for the use of the product. Informants were tasked with distributing the devices among senior criminal figures to build confidence in the platform. The only way to acquire a customised phone was by knowing a criminal as the application could not be downloaded onto any device, it came pre-loaded. Around 12,000 devices were monitored over a three-year period and intelligence agencies were able to track 300 criminal networks active in 100 different countries. Twenty-seven million messages were decoded in real-time that prevented murders and mass drug imports, including eight tons of cocaine, 22 tons of cannabis, two tons of synthetic drugs (including amphetamines and methamphetamines), and six tons of synthetic drugs’ precursors. The operation’s 700 raids also led to the seizure of 250 firearms, 55 luxury vehicles and over $48 million in various currencies and cryptocurrencies. Jean-Phillipe Lecouffe, Director of Europol, said some of the countries involved included Australia, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, New Zealand, Scotland, Britain, Germany, and the US, with an estimated 9,000 police officers involved in the sting operation. Despite this massive victory, John Ryan, chief executive of the Pennington Institute, concluded: “The ‘app trap’ mega bust is probably the end of easy trust in encryption devices, but gangsters have managed for decades without such tools, and they have the financial incentive to adapt, regardless of the misery they cause.” 

From a Christian perspective, John 3:19-20 reminds us: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” Clearly, the darkness that lives in the world and the desire of those acting in darkness is to remain hidden. But, just as Scripture emphasises this, it also reminds us that the light of the world, Jesus Christ, has come and will not be overcome.  Though many sceptics question the effectiveness of such busts on thwarting gang activity — due to the profitability of drug trafficking — the success of the Trojan Shield Operation is indicative of God’s desire to expose the darkest areas of the world and rescue those in bondage, and the victims of evil. For sin to be defeated it must first be exposed. Ephesians 5: 11-13 says: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” Although not all may be revealed in this life, anything that is exposed by God’s hand can be used as a light to further His Kingdom. The body of Christ can be actively praying for creative and effective ways for the criminal activities of the underworld to be exposed to light, and ultimately to His redemptive light. As the ‘hands and feet’ of Jesus, believers need to be ready to respond to needs, when evil is exposed. 

Please pray with us for the following:

  • For God to continue exposing the darkness in the world and for His Body to use these opportunities to share the gospel with perpetrators and victims alike
  • For God to impart His wisdom and creativity to the agencies charged with thwarting the criminal underworld
  • For those involved in gang activity to have an encounter with the Light of the world 

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Image: REUTERS/Mike Blake

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