Extensive criminal communication network brought down
19 april 2016 - Landelijk Parket
Today, the Dutch police and the Public Prosecution Service brought down an extensive encrypted communication network of Dutch and possibly foreign criminals. In Nijmegen, a 36-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of money laundering.
Today, the police copied several servers in the Netherlands. The man who was arrested is the owner of a company in Nijmegen which provided the criminals with customized smartphones and accompanying communication services. Today, in collaboration with the Toronto police, a server was temporarily shut down in Canada, after all its data had been copied.
Pretty Good Privacy
For some time, the police and the Public Prosecution Service have known that criminals make elaborate use of every possibility of confidential communication which phones with specific encryption software (Pretty Good Privacy) offer. As criminal investigations of contract killings, motor gangs, and drugs trafficking have shown, this makes it almost impossible for investigation services to trace the communication between suspects of organized crime.
This in particular was the reason for the police, under the authority of the National Public Prosecutors' Office, to initiate an investigation into the largest provider of said services in the Netherlands. The company in Nijmegen, which was selling customized phones for some 1,500 euro each, used its own specific servers for its protected data communications.
During the investigation, digital experts of the High Tech Crime Team managed to trace the servers used for the criminals' data communications. Today, the servers were brought down and their contents copied. It will enable the police and the Public Prosecution Service to gain an insight into the communication between the members of the various criminal gangs. The data retrieved from the secured servers will be analyzed further and, where possible, used in current investigations.
By bringing down the servers in question, the police have probably secured the largest encrypted criminal network in the Netherlands. The police and the Public Prosecution Service are paying extra attention to companies that provide criminals with these services. Criminal facilitators are frequently prosecuted for money laundering. The police and the Public Prosecution Service keep track of developments in the field of encryption, S/MIME, and OneBCcards.
The Public Prosecution Service has ordered several companies in the Netherlands to allow the judicial authorities access to their digital infrastructure. This requires measures such as the obligatory provision of passwords.
Some 19,000 registered users who wish to use the network after today's action will receive an automatic message informing them that the police have copied and are examining the systems. The message also states that the investigation is targeting individuals who are suspected of serious crimes. Users who have the right of non-disclosure can apply to the e-mail address mentioned in the message.