In France, where the operation took place under the code name ‘Emma 95’, the Gendarmerie had set up a task force in March 2020. With more than 60 officers, the Gendarmerie lead the investigations targeting the EncroChat encrypted telephone solution under the supervision of the magistrates of the JIRS of Lille. The task force had been monitoring the communications of thousands of criminals, leading to the opening of a wide range of incidental proceedings. France does not wish to communicate further on these ongoing investigations nor on the results obtained. The considerable resources deployed demonstrate the importance of these investigations and the importance attached to their success in France.
In the Netherlands, where the operation went under the code name ‘Lemont’, hundreds of investigators, with the authorisation of the examining magistrate, followed the communications of thousands of criminals day and night since the operation began to unravel and act on the intercepted data stream. The criminal investigation was led by prosecutors from the Dutch National Public Prosecution Service and the information has been made available to about a hundred ongoing criminal investigations.
The investigation has so far led to the arrest of 60 suspects, the seizure of drugs (more than 10 000 kg cocaine, 70 kg heroin, 12 000 kg cannabis, 1 500 kg crystal meth and 160 000 litres of a substance used to produce synthetic drugs), the dismantling of 19 synthetic drugs labs, the seizure of dozens of (automatic) fire weapons, expensive watches and 25 cars, including vehicles with hidden compartments, and almost EUR 20 million in cash. The expectation is that information will be made available in more than 300 investigations. In several cases, more arrests are very likely to follow in the coming period.
Effects all over the European Union and beyond
A large number of suspects were also arrested in several countries that were not participating in the JIT but particularly affected by the illegal use of these phones by individuals active in organised crime, including in the United Kingdom, Sweden and Norway. Many of these investigations were connected with international drug trafficking and violent criminal activities.
Norway: A total of 12 investigations were started based on the data received from EncroChat, and the information was also relevant to ongoing investigations. In total, 31 people were initially arrested, and over 500 kg of drugs, guns and hand grenades, EUR 83 000 in cash, luxury goods and properties have been seized.
United Kingdom: As of 19 January 2021, there had been 1 239 arrests in the United Kingdom arising from EncroChat.
Sweden: In Sweden, about 90 investigations started as a result of the cooperation through Eurojust and Europol, many of them regarding murder and attempted murder or conspiracy to murder. So far, about 230 suspects have been detained and there have been convictions in 15 cases with punishment of up to 14 years’ imprisonment. Goods seized included about 50 firearms, explosives and several hand grenades, 1 300 kg of narcotics and EUR 53 000 in cash. Several court proceedings are expected to take place during 2021.