A military-grade encrypted communication system used by organised criminals trading in drugs and guns has been hacked by law enforcement in one of the biggest operations of its kind.
Thousands of officers from the National Crime Agency, regional crime squads and every police force in the UK have been involved in a massive international sting that was launched in April.
After four years of work by international teams, French investigators managed to access Encrochat, an encrypted platform used by 60,000 people worldwide, including around 10,000 in the UK, for what law enforcement agencies claim were purely criminal purposes.
The company, which charged £1,500 for a device on a six-month contract, sent out a warning to users in early June to say that its servers had been hacked by a government entity.
This left investigators with a race against time to make the most of the wealth of information available on the platform, targeting “Mr and Mrs Bigs” before they could cover their tracks.