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‘One of the most extensive strikes ever’: Norway makes arrests in global police sting

Some 257 people were arrested in Norway, Sweden and Finland in the global sting on organised crime using planted encrypted phones, authorities said Tuesday, with only Australia registering more arrests.

'One of the most extensive strikes ever': Norway makes arrests in global police sting
Police tape. Photo: Søren Storm Hansen/Flickr

Out of a total of over 800 arrests across 16 countries, Norway made seven arrests, 155 arrests were tied to Swedish investigations and another 100 were arrested in Finland. Australia said it had charged more than 200 people. 

“Yesterday, early in the morning, the Swedish police performed one of the most extensive strikes ever in intelligence-led police operations against violent crime and drug networks,” Linda Staaf, head of intelligence at the Swedish police, told reporters.

On Monday, 70 people were arrested in Sweden and another five in Spain, in addition to another 80 Swedish arrests tied to the operation, Staaf told the press conference organised by Europol in The Hague.

“Many of them (were) persons with essential roles and heavy influence on the drug market. Those who instigate murders and violence, by shootings and explosions, right in the middle of the Swedish society,” Staaf said.

READ ALSO: What makes Norway’s criminal justice system different to other countries 

Sweden has for years struggled to counter a rise in crime tied to criminal gangs, which has resulted in a spike of fatal shootings and bombings in an otherwise peaceful country.

Using phones planted by the US FBI, law enforcement officers were able to read the messages of global underworld figures in around 100 countries as they plotted drug deals, arms transfers and gangland hits on the compromised ANOM devices.

Of the total 12,000 ANOM users, Swedish police had access to about 1,600 accounts, and eventually honed in on around 600 people, according to the police.

Using this information, Staaf said Swedish police had been able to “prevent more than 10 planned murders within Sweden.”

Finnish police meanwhile said in a statement on Tuesday they made almost 100 arrests and seized “more than 500 kilos of drugs, dozens of weapons and hundreds of thousands of euros in cash,” during extensive raids carried out as part of the operation.

The raids included a major seizure of cannabis and machine guns in the capital region, as well as a workshop in the southern town of Tampere “where 3D printers were being used to manufacture firearms components,” police said.

In Nordic neighbour Norway, a total of seven arrests had been made. Police in many countries had already been able to benefit from the June 2020 infiltration of the Encrochat network, which was also widely used by criminals.

This also lead to a wave of arrests, and Staaf described it as a “game changer in combatting serious violent crime.”

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CRIME

Norwegian police to remain armed with advice to postpone Pride events dropped 

Norwegian police will continue to be armed following a mass shooting in Oslo, but the advice for Pride events nationwide to be postponed has been scrapped, the Police Directorate announced Wednesday. 

Norwegian police to remain armed with advice to postpone Pride events dropped 

Police in Norway will continue to be armed for the foreseeable future, the Norwegian Police Directorate announced yesterday. 

It was announced that police in Norway be armed following a mass shooting in Oslo, which left two dead and 21 injured last week

Yesterday, Norway’s domestic intelligence and counter-terrorism service, PST, lowered the terrorist threat level from extraordinary to high- the second-highest level. 

“The threat level in Norway has changed from extraordinary, to high, according to PST. The danger of follow-up actions or inspired attacks means that the police will continue to be temporarily armed,” the Police Directorate wrote on its website

The police said that PST had widened the threat picture from LGBT groups to other broader targets. 

“PST maintains that LGBTQI + is still included in the target picture, but also people and events that are perceived to offend Islam, religious gatherings and uniformed personnel from the police and defence,” the police said on its website. 

Police also dropped the advice that Pride and LGBT events across the country be postponed. The recommendation was implemented due to a fear of copycat attacks from PST. 

Decisions on whether it was safe for events to go ahead would be made by local authorities going forward. 

“A national recommendation to postpone Pride events expires. The police districts will themselves make risk assessments related to individual events and handling of large crowds based on the overall threat picture and local conditions,” police director Benedicte Bjørnland said. 

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