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An insight into the dangerous – and highly lucrative – world of organised crime was there for every Australian to see when police unveiled the results of Operation Ironside. 

The operation, hailed the biggest in Australian history, started with a fake encrypted communication app developed in partnership with the FBI, a bright idea by an agent as he workshopped plans with colleagues over beers. 

After three years of snooping on the world’s most dangerous crooks, 4,000 detectives from across Australia pounced, and as well as arresting 224 alleged criminals, seized an extraordinary haul of cash, drugs and other goods.

There were luxury sports cars and motorbikes, entire kitchens full of bags of drugs and of course, Godfather and Breaking Bad memorabilia. 

There was a Ducati, an Audi and Rolexes on one side – but also bullet-proof vests, firearms, outlaw motorcycle gang paraphernalia and plenty of tacky movie memorabilia. 

Those arrested came from all walks of life, but among them were reality television stars, mafia bosses, bikies and fitness fanatics. Australia’s criminal underworld all snared by tech-savy Aussie cops with the help of the United States’ FBI.

One hundred and four weapons were seized across the span of the operation. Some of the guns which were found are pictured above

New South Wales Police seized $1.5 million worth of cars - including this McLaren - during Monday's raids

New South Wales Police seized $1.5 million worth of cars – including this McLaren – during Monday’s raids

Among the items seized by the AFP was memorabilia from the 1972 cult classic The Godfather

Among the items seized by the AFP was memorabilia from the 1972 cult classic The Godfather 

Woolworths bags full of wads of wash were also seized during the raids, which involved 4,000 officers on Monday and Tuesday

Woolworths bags full of wads of wash were also seized during the raids, which involved 4,000 officers on Monday and Tuesday

Officers loaded up their own weapons before executing the dangerous raids (pictured)

Officers loaded up their own weapons before executing the dangerous raids (pictured)

This highly powered gun can reportedly shoot up to two kilometres away, and was discovered during the raids

This highly powered gun can reportedly shoot up to two kilometres away, and was discovered during the raids

Pictured: Police inspecing more of the ammunition and weapons found during the operation

Pictured: Police inspecing more of the ammunition and weapons found during the operation

Offenders are linked to the Australian-based Italian mafia, outlaw motorcycle gangs, Asian crime syndicates and Albanian organised crime figures

Offenders are linked to the Australian-based Italian mafia, outlaw motorcycle gangs, Asian crime syndicates and Albanian organised crime figures

Mountains of cash were seized at multiple locations, with loose change and small notes discarded haphazardly in silver bowls while $50 and $100 notes were reserved for duffel bags and stored in wads

Mountains of cash were seized at multiple locations, with loose change and small notes discarded haphazardly in silver bowls while $50 and $100 notes were reserved for duffel bags and stored in wads

Luxury watches (pictured above) were seized as part of the operation - with audacious diamond encrusted watches among them

Luxury watches (pictured above) were seized as part of the operation – with audacious diamond encrusted watches among them

Ninja Warrior 2017 contestant Sopiea Kong was among those arrested. The 33-year-old was charged last week following a raid at a Kangaroo Point home, where police allegedly seized 154g of meth

Ninja Warrior 2017 contestant Sopiea Kong was among those arrested. The 33-year-old was charged last week following a raid at a Kangaroo Point home, where police allegedly seized 154g of meth

 

Australia's biggest ever police bust has seen mass arrests of the Who's Who of the global criminal underworld, with 3.77 tonnes of drugs, $45 million in cash, guns, luxury cars, motorcycles and watches seized

Australia’s biggest ever police bust has seen mass arrests of the Who’s Who of the global criminal underworld, with 3.77 tonnes of drugs, $45 million in cash, guns, luxury cars, motorcycles and watches seized

More than 100 alleged criminals were tricked into sending messages to their criminal associates around the world via the encrypted messaging app, ‘AN0M’, unaware it was run by FBI special agents and the Australian Federal Police who could intercept their every word. 

The app gained currency in the underworld after being promoted by drug kingpins such as Australia’s most wanted man, Hakan Ayik, after first being distributed by police informants.

Through the covert operation, detectives allegedly uncovered 21 murder plots, gun distribution and mass drug trafficking, with mafia bosses, bikies, and reality TV stars arrested and charged.  

Detectives have since released more than 60 images taken during the multiple raids, detailing how they seized 3.7 tonnes of drugs, 104 weapons and almost $45million in cash as part of the operation.  

In New South Wales alone, 33 search warrants were executed, resulting in the seizure of $800,000 cash, $1.5 million worth of luxury cars, including a Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren and Bentley and 27 guns. 

This McLaren was among several cars seized in Monday morning raids across New South Wales

This McLaren was among several cars seized in Monday morning raids across New South Wales

In the kitchen of one of the houses, enormous bags of a white substance take up most of the space on the floor, blocking access to the dishwasher and lower drawers

In the kitchen of one of the houses, enormous bags of a white substance take up most of the space on the floor, blocking access to the dishwasher and lower drawers

New Zealand police also executed simultaneous raids and shared pictures of their own hauls - including this bag of marijuana

New Zealand police also executed simultaneous raids and shared pictures of their own hauls – including this bag of marijuana

Mountains of cash were seized at multiple locations, including this bowl of loose change, $5, $10 and $20 notes

Mountains of cash were seized at multiple locations, including this bowl of loose change, $5, $10 and $20 notes

Mobile phones and encrypted technology were also seized. A Comanchero bikie was among those arrested and charged

Mobile phones and encrypted technology were also seized. A Comanchero bikie was among those arrested and charged

Offenders are linked to the Australian-based Italian mafia, outlaw motorcycle gangs, Asian crime syndicates and Albanian organised crime figures

This man sits on his bed wearing a white shirt and navy underwear with his hands cuffed behind his back as several decked out officers monitor him and search the house

Police have charged 224 alleged offenders with 525 charges, shut down six clandestine laboratories and acted on 21 threats to kill, including saving a family of five

Police have charged 224 alleged offenders with 525 charges, shut down six clandestine laboratories and acted on 21 threats to kill, including saving a family of five

Cars were torn apart during the operation as police searched for further incriminating evidence

Cars were torn apart during the operation as police searched for further incriminating evidence

Australian Federal Police announced on Tuesday they had seized 3.7 tonnes of drugs, 104 weapons and almost $45million in cash as part of the operation – which was three years in the making. Pictured: Some of the ammunition 

Police have charged 224 alleged offenders with 525 charges, shut down six clandestine laboratories and acted on 21 threats to kill, including saving a family of five

Police have charged 224 alleged offenders with 525 charges, shut down six clandestine laboratories and acted on 21 threats to kill, including saving a family of five

Forensic officers were tasked with examining the enormous haul of items seized during the groundbreaking arrests

Forensic officers were tasked with examining the enormous haul of items seized during the groundbreaking arrests

New Zealand police officers executed their own raids as part of the sting, seizing wads of cash and drugs

New Zealand police officers executed their own raids as part of the sting, seizing wads of cash and drugs

Bullet proof vests were also seized - highlighting the sophistication of the drug and criminal operation

Bullet proof vests were also seized – highlighting the sophistication of the drug and criminal operation

Mountains of ammunition was discovered along with more than 100 weapons when 4,000 officers raided homes across Australia on Monday and Tuesday

Mountains of ammunition was discovered along with more than 100 weapons when 4,000 officers raided homes across Australia on Monday and Tuesday

New South Wales Police discovered bags of marijuana among other drugs including meth, cocaine and lidocaine

New South Wales Police discovered bags of marijuana among other drugs including meth, cocaine and lidocaine

In the kitchen of one of the houses, bags of a white substance take up most of the space on the floor, blocking access to the dishwasher and lower drawers. 

Cash was seized at multiple locations, with loose change and small notes discarded haphazardly in silver bowls while $50 and $100 notes were reserved for duffel bags and stored in wads.

There were more weapons seized than people arrested – including sophisticated rifles and a seemingly endless stream of ammunition for forensics officers to sift through. 

Among some of the other items which may help detectives piece together the motives of those involved included outlaw motorcycle gang paraphernalia and memorabilia from the iconic The Godfather movie franchise. 

Comanchero cuts, caps and belts were among the items seized from suspected bikies. 

One Comanchero, a 35-year-old man from Vaucluse in Sydney, was arrested during a 6am raid on Monday in which police seized encrypted devises, Rolex watches valued at $400,000 and the Lamborghini.

He was charged with dealing with the proceeds of crime, supplying a commercial quantity of drugs and participating in a criminal group and was denied bail to reappear in Waverley Local Court on Friday June 18.

REVEALED: The truth about AN0M, secret FBI spy app used by the Australian Federal Police

On its glitzy website, the ‘ANoM’ phone looks like any new tech innovation with sleek black lines, ‘invite only’ exclusivity and a pledge to ‘enforce your right to privacy’.

But its best feature – and for most of its users, the worst – wasn’t promoted in its marketing material. 

The phone, which supposedly allowed encrypted communications safe from the eyes of the law, was actually a cunning trap laid for a who’s who of organised crime. 

The Australian Federal Police on Tuesday revealed a breathtaking three-year tech ploy which led to 4,000 police executing 525 search warrants.   

'Enforce your right to privacy': This is how the ANoM website advertised its product - with users not realising that law enforcement officials could read each and every message

‘Enforce your right to privacy’: This is how the ANoM website advertised its product – with users not realising that law enforcement officials could read each and every message

Senior bikies and mafia figures were tricked into buying hi-tech phones that would supposedly let them messages one another, free of police snooping. 

But the ANoM phones were actually designed by the FBI and allowed Australian police to read the texts of organised crime figures.  

Police watched in real time as alleged crooks spilled their secrets to one another on their own app. 

Some 21 execution plots were foiled and drug and gun smuggling networks dismantled. 

Some 224 people have been arrested, $44,934,457 in cash seized, as well as 104 weapons, 3.7 tonnes of drugs and multi-million dollar assets.   

Alleged crooks even paid six-monthly subscription fees to the police – the money only further reinforcing law enforcement methods.  

 

More than 100 people were arrested during the course of the operation - which was three years in the making

More than 100 people were arrested during the course of the operation – which was three years in the making

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said the alleged syndicate included 'some of the most dangerous criminals to Australia'

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said the alleged syndicate included ‘some of the most dangerous criminals to Australia’

Fifty dollar notes were bundled up together to make larger sums and hidden in separate locations (left) while bags of white substance was also found during the raids (right)

Outlaw motorcycle gang paraphernalia was among items seized - including this one percenter Comanchero baseball cap

Outlaw motorcycle gang paraphernalia was among items seized – including this one percenter Comanchero baseball cap

A tradie is seen kneeling with his hands tied behind his back after being arrested following raids

 A tradie is seen kneeling with his hands tied behind his back after being arrested following raids

A luxury Ducati motorcycle, Audi sedan, Rolex watches, ammunition, bullet-proof vests, firearms and even memorabilia from the 1972 cult classic The Godfather was seized from a number of properties

A luxury Ducati motorcycle, Audi sedan, Rolex watches, ammunition, bullet-proof vests, firearms and even memorabilia from the 1972 cult classic The Godfather was seized from a number of properties

Weapons seized in a warehouse were laid out on a police tarp and wrapped up as officers took photos of the haul

Weapons seized in a warehouse were laid out on a police tarp and wrapped up as officers took photos of the haul

More than 100 organised crime members have been arrested across the country as part of the operation, initiated after the United States' FBI decrypted 'AN0M', an online communications platform used by gang figures

More than 100 organised crime members have been arrested across the country as part of the operation, initiated after the United States’ FBI decrypted ‘AN0M’, an online communications platform used by gang figures

Wads of $50 and $100 notes were found in black duffel bags (pictured) during the operation

Wads of $50 and $100 notes were found in black duffel bags (pictured) during the operation

In total, 107 weapons were seized throughout the raids, including this handgun. Police also uncovered mountains of ammunition

In total, 107 weapons were seized throughout the raids, including this handgun. Police also uncovered mountains of ammunition

The bulk of the alleged offenders are linked to the Australian-based Italian mafia, outlaw motorcycle gangs, Asian crime syndicates and Albanian organised crime figures.

Police have charged 224 alleged offenders with 525 charges, shut down six clandestine laboratories and acted on 21 threats to kill, including saving a family of five.

A spokesman for New South Wales Police warned more arrests were likely. 

Ninja Warrior 2017 contestant Sopiea Kong was among those arrested. The 33-year-old was charged last week following a raid at a Kangaroo Point home, where police allegedly seized 154g of meth. 

Kong, who was also allegedly in possession of $2,030 cash and a revolver, was granted bail and will appear in court on June 28.

Former Bachelorette star Samuel Minkin, who appeared on Becky and Elly Miles’ season of the dating show, was charged with possessing a large commercial quantity of cannabis after police stopped a van in Byron Bay last month.

Former Bandito bikie Benjamin Joseph Thornton, 31, was arrested after police seized two mobile phones and a small quantity of cocaine. He was denied bail and will reappear in court next week.  

Former Bachelorette star Samuel Minkin, who appeared on Becky and Elly Miles' season of the dating show, was charged with possessing a large commercial quantity of cannabis after police stopped a van in Byron Bay last month

Former Bachelorette star Samuel Minkin, who appeared on Becky and Elly Miles’ season of the dating show, was charged with possessing a large commercial quantity of cannabis after police stopped a van in Byron Bay last month

Outlaw bikies were involved in the raids - with many arrested and gang paraphernalia seized

Outlaw bikies were involved in the raids – with many arrested and gang paraphernalia seized

How did the AN0M scam work?  

Users could buy phone handsets costing between $1,500 and $2,500 from what has been described as underground distributors. 

The phones were stripped down – they couldn’t even make calls, access the internet or send emails. 

What did do was send encrypted messages, photos and videos, using a foreign SIM card to apparently avoid Australian data snooping laws. 

Crooks could buy a six month subscription to use the app – the funds raised unknowingly redirected to the police. 

The app was invitation-only as of Tuesday morning - before the page was sensationally taken down and replaced with a warning by the FBI

The app was invitation-only as of Tuesday morning – before the page was sensationally taken down and replaced with a warning by the FBI

Anom's Twitter account claimed the company was based in the famously neutral nation of Switzerland

Anom’s Twitter account claimed the company was based in the famously neutral nation of Switzerland

The app was accessed by entering a PIN number into the phone’s calculator, the stuff of spy dramas. 

ANoM’s website, which was only deleted about 10am on Tuesday, made the technology sound bulletproof.   

The company was apparently based in famously neutral Switzerland and boasted of ‘military grade encrypt and sanitise’. 

For its encryption, it claimed to use ‘OMEMO Double Ratchet Algorithm … independently audited by Dutch security research group Radically Open Security’.  

That may have been an in-joke – as all the supposedly self-destructing messages sent on the app was radically open to the Australian Federal Police to read. 

Scales and items often used in the operation of selling and trafficking drugs were found inside several of the properties that were raided during the searches

This luxury Audi was among several cars and motorcycles seized during the operation. An officer drove it onto a tow truck to be taken away

This luxury Audi was among several cars and motorcycles seized during the operation. An officer drove it onto a tow truck to be taken away

This unassuming house was one of several raided by AFP officers following a three year investigation into Australia's criminal underworld

This unassuming house was one of several raided by AFP officers following a three year investigation into Australia’s criminal underworld

Scales and measuring jugs were picked up as part of the sophisticated syndicate (left)

A Sargeant At Arms cut from the Comancheros bikie gang was confiscated during one of the raids

A Sargeant At Arms cut from the Comancheros bikie gang was confiscated during one of the raids

The pictures offer an insight into the wealth, firepower and even taste in gangster movies of those arrested during the sweeping raids across the country, the United States, Britain and wider Europe. 

Authorities hope the widespread arrests act as a pin to the heart of organised crime in Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the AFP operation, known as Operation Ironside, had struck a ‘heavy blow’ against organised crime.

‘The operation puts Australia at the forefront of the fight against criminals who peddle in human misery and ultimately, it will keep our communities and Australians safe,’ he said on Tuesday.

‘Illicit drug use ruins lives and fuels organised crime.’

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said federal agents had been in the ‘back pockets’ of criminals through the encryption app.

‘The FBI had the lead on this. We provided the technical capability to decrypt those messages,’ he said.

‘Some of the best ideas come over a couple of beers.’ 

Mr Kershaw said detectives have arrested the alleged ‘King makers’ behind the alleged crimes, prevented mass shootings in suburbs and ‘frustrated serious and organised crime by seizing their ill-gotten wealth’.

‘And these figures are likely to increase over the coming days. Collectively, these alleged offenders are facing jail terms that could run into hundreds of years and some of the charges they are facing carry life imprisonment,’ he said.

A tattooed man sat on the concrete floor with an officer supervising him during the arrests

A tattooed man sat on the concrete floor with an officer supervising him during the arrests

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said the alleged syndicate included 'some of the most dangerous criminals to Australia'

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said the alleged syndicate included ‘some of the most dangerous criminals to Australia’

Australian Federal Police have released pictures of the wealth, firepower and even taste in gangster movies of those arrested during sweeping raids across Australia, the U.S., Britain and wider Europe after the criminals were covertly monitored for three years using an encrypted communication app called 'AN0M'

Australian Federal Police have released pictures of the wealth, firepower and even taste in gangster movies of those arrested during sweeping raids across Australia, the U.S., Britain and wider Europe after the criminals were covertly monitored for three years using an encrypted communication app called ‘AN0M’

An anonymous tech geek posted a blog in March, titled 'AN0M ENCRYPTED SCAM EXPOSED', placing the mission into jeopardy

An anonymous tech geek posted a blog in March, titled ‘AN0M ENCRYPTED SCAM EXPOSED’, placing the mission into jeopardy

A luxury Audi sedan was towed away from the scene after it was loaded onto a truck

A luxury Audi sedan was towed away from the scene after it was loaded onto a truck

Senior investigators said '100 per cent' of telephone conversations intercepted on the devices were all business and in relation to criminal activity

Senior investigators said ‘100 per cent’ of telephone conversations intercepted on the devices were all business and in relation to criminal activity

One of the alleged criminals is bundled into an unmarked police car following his arrest during the landmark raids

One of the alleged criminals is bundled into an unmarked police car following his arrest during the landmark raids



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