In a series of news conferences around the world the next day, Operation Trojan Shield was revealed.
To date, there have been more than 800 arrests and the seizure of more than eight tonnes of cocaine, 22 tonnes of cannabis, two tonnes of synthetic drugs, 250 guns, 55 luxury vehicles and over US$48 million in cash and cryptocurrencies, Europol said.
This meant that 100 threats to life were mitigated, he said.
"We were actually able to see photographs of hundreds of tonnes of cocaine that were concealed in shipments of fruit, we were able to see hundreds of kilos of cocaine that were concealed in canned goods", Shivers said.
A major global sting meant criminal gangs thought the encrypted app, called ANOM, was safe from snooping when, in fact, authorities for months had been monitoring millions of messages about drug smuggling, money laundering and even planned killings.More news: Biden Declares US Will Donate 80 Million Vaccine Doses
"Operation Ironside", as the investigation was named, began three years ago as a collaboration between several global law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, the AFP, New Zealand police and Europol. The FBI did in criminal gangs for the past 18 months in more than 100 countries supplied with mobile devices.
Australia's prime minister called the sting a "watershed" operation that had hit criminal gangs globally.
The app was lauded by criminals around the world, who promoted it "for its absolute reliability", says Jannine van den Berg, chief constable of the Central Unit of the Dutch police, per the Washington Post.
Whether it was coordinating drug trafficking, money laundering or murders, every message tapped out on the phones was sent not only to the intended criminal underworld recipients, but delivered right into the hands of investigators.
The FBI had just what they needed.
"There was a void that was created by a lack of these encrypted platforms", Shivers said, of the initial move to take down apps previously used by gangs. Agencies not only developed a tool but also developed a process of gathering and sharing intelligence.
Over time, this FBI-run app grew to service more than 12,000 encrypted devices to over 300 criminal syndicates operating in more than 100 countries, including Italian organised crime, outlaw motorcycle gangs, and global drug trafficking organisations. "When you get access, and it will come out in court, you'll see that all they talk about is drugs, violence, hits on each other, innocent people who are going to be murdered", Kershaw said.More news: Teen Shoves Bear off Wall To Save Her Dogs in Viral Video
Drugs, weapons and cash have also been seized. "He told reporters in The Hague that the operation "...helped prevent a number of crimes".
Shivers said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had provided criminal syndicates in over 100 countries with the devices over the last 18 months "that allowed us to monitor their communications".
More than 800 suspects have been arrested, 32 tons of drugs seized and $148 million confiscated in a massive global organized crime investigation, law enforcement authorities said Tuesday.
Mr Kershaw said the Australian underworld figure, who had absconded from the country, had "essentially set up his own colleagues" by distributing the phones and was a marked man.
Although the authorities have cracked or shut down encrypted platforms in the past - such as one called EncroChat that the police in Europe successfully hacked - this is the first known instance in which officials have controlled an entire encrypted network from its inception.
The operation marks USA law enforcement's latest attempt to circumvent encryption on smartphones.
The UK National Crime Agency said it had carried out "multiple operations" as a result of the sting, code-named Operation Trojan Shield.More news: B.C. reports fewer than 200 new COVID-19 cases, no deaths