The encrypted messaging app Exclu was dismantled and its founders arrested after reports that they ran a service used by various criminals, including drug lords.
Police in the Netherlands conducted two investigations, one from September 2020 and the other from April 2022, with the assistance of Eurojust, Europol, as well as police forces in Italy, Sweden, France and Germany. A total of 79 targeted searches were carried out in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, of which 22 were carried out in the Netherlands.
A total of 42 people were detained, including 11 people believed to be directly linked to the Exclu platform – two of whom are allegedly owners and managers of the platform. Others were various criminals, including operators of a drug lab where “drugs, firearms and over €4 million in cash” were found.
Excel was encrypted (opens in a new tab) a subscription-based communication platform that people could get for €800 for six months. It offered multimedia communication where people could share text messages, voice messages, images and videos.
Citing police reports, Beeping Computer (opens in a new tab) claims the app had 3,000 users, 750 of whom lived in the Netherlands.
The police say that before dismantling the app and arresting people, they managed to “hack” the app and obtain communication data. Given past events of this type (when the police did the same for ANOM or Sky, which were the encrypted communication platforms used by criminals), it’s safe to assume that there will be more arrests as the police go through larger sets of data. For ANOM alone, there have been more than 800 arrests so far.
The police also called on innocent people using the platform to protect their privacy – lawyers, doctors, etc. – to come forward and request that their data be deleted.
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