OPERATION IRONSIDE - WHAT WE KNOW
* Operation Ironside is the name of the Australian Federal Police arm of a global covert investigation, involving the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Europol.
* It began almost three years ago.
* It targeted an encrypted communications platform used by organised crime gangs around the world.
* The platform was an app called ANoM, installed on stripped-back black market mobile phones that could only send messages to another device.
* Criminals needed to know a criminal to get one.
* The devices grew in popularity among criminals after high-profile figures - dubbed "criminal influencers" - vouched for them.
* But ANoM was being covertly run by the FBI, allowing law enforcement to piggyback chatter between gangs.
* The encrypted communications included plots to kill, mass drug trafficking and gun distribution.
* In Australia, the alleged perpetrators include the Italian mafia, outlaw motorcycle gangs, Asian crime syndicates and Albanian organised crime figures.
* More arrests are expected domestically and offshore under a coordinated global response connected to Operation Ironside.
WHAT HAS THE OPERATION TURNED UP IN AUSTRALIA SO FAR?
* Some 224 Australians have been arrested and more than 100 charged in every mainland Australian state.
* Seizure of 3.7 tonnes of drugs, 104 weapons, about $45 million in cash and assets expected to run into the millions of dollars since 2018.
* The AFP has also acted on 21 direct threats to kill, potentially saving the lives of a significant number of bystanders.
INVOLVEMENT OF OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
* The European Union police agency, Europol, and the FBI will hold their own press conferences on Tuesday and into Wednesday Australian time.
Australian Associated Press
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