A collaborative law enforcement effort by Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland resulted in the dismantling of the encrypted messaging platform Exclu.
Eurojust reported the arrests of 45 individuals in Belgium and the Netherlands, including users, administrators, and owners of the service. During raids in 79 locations, authorities seized €5.5 million, 300,000 ecstasy tablets, 20 firearms, and 200 phones. Two drug labs were also shut down.
Exclu, with an estimated 3,000 users, including 750 Dutch speakers, has been under investigation in Germany since June 2020.
The Politie were able to gain covert access to the platform, allowing them to read messages for the past five months.
Advertised as the “most sophisticated communication platform,” with end-to-end encryption, Exclu offered a three-month license for €500 or a six-month license for €900.
However, users of Exclu were linked to organized crime, particularly drug trafficking, and the operators were accused of supporting their customers in committing crimes with a seemingly secure communication channel.
The crackdown on Exclu follows the successful takedowns of similar messaging apps, EncroChat and Sky ECC, in 2020 and 2021.