A reality TV star is among 200 people arrested in a huge bust of what is alleged to be a massive organised drugs ring in Australia
Australian cops have uncovered an extraordinary haul of 3.77 tonnes of drugs, $45 million in cash, guns, luxury cars, motorbikes and watches after hacking into an underworld messaging app to bring down a global criminal enterprise.
The operation – code named ironside – has resulted in 200 arrests and is being hailed as a 'watershed moment' for Australian law enforcement, who together with the FBI, gained access to 25 million messages revealing 'industrial scale' drug, guns and even murder plots.
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.
Authorities took control of a messaging app called ANOM, since 2018 and when an Australian underworld figure begun distributing the app to his associates they were able to monitor and intercept their communications.
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The gangs were misled to believe the encrypted app was secure and they openly discussed a murder plot involving plans to target a cafe with a machine gun, while a family of five was also targeted.
Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw told at a press conference on Tuesday: "All they talk about is drugs, violence, hits on each other, innocent people who are going to be murdered."
"It was there to be seen, including 'we’ll have a speedboat meet you at this point', 'this is who will do this' and so on."
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The underground app led to luxury goods being seized and authorities snaring criminals in Australia, Asia, South America and the Middle East involved in the global narcotics trade.
Australia did not reveal detail of any arrests in other countries but said Europol and the FBI would disclose details imminently.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the operation “struck a heavy blow against organised crime – not just in this country, but one that will echo around organised crime around the world”.
A total of 224 people were arrested on Monday, including members of outlawed motorcycle gangs, and 104 firearms seized as well as almost A$45 million (£24.6 million) in cash.
New Zealand said it had detained 35 people.
In all 525 charges have been laid against the people arrested but officials said they expect more in the coming weeks.
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