Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Australian Federal Police commissioner Reece Kershaw during a news conference in Sydney on Tuesday. Photo: Mark Evans/Getty Images

An FBI-led sting using an encrypted messaging app has resulted in the arrests of hundreds of suspected organized crime figures around the world, authorities in Australia announced Tuesday.

Driving the news: Authorities decided to use the AN0M messaging app to track suspects globally in an investigation after Aussie police officers and FBI agents came up with the idea to run the platform while having some after-work beers in 2018, according to Australian police.

  • Australian Federal Police commissioner Reece Kershaw said at a briefing Tuesday that suspected "Australian mafia, Asian crime syndicates," drug traffickers and members of outlawed motorcycle gangs, were among 224 people arrested in the country.
  • Hundreds other suspects were arrested in raids in places including the U.S., Europe, Asia, South America, the Middle East and New Zealand — 18 countries in all, and more arrests were expected.

What they did: In the sting, called Operation Ironside in Australia and Trojan Shield in the U.S., authorities decrypted and tracked some 25 million messages in real-time — monitoring discussions on planned executions, massive drug importations and money laundering.

  • Authorities said Australian fugitive Hakan Ayik, a suspected major drug trafficker, unknowingly helped the sting by recommending the app to associates after being given a device pre-loaded with AN0M, which was sold on the black market.
  • The encryption resulted in criminals being "very brazen," with "no attempt to hide behind any kind of codified kind of conversation," according to Kershaw.
  • "Essentially, they have handcuffed each other by endorsing and trusting AN0M and openly communicating on it — not knowing we were watching the entire time," he added.

By the numbers: Authorities said they prevented one planned mass shooting by an organized crime syndicate in an Australian suburb and 21 murder plots, as they seized over 3 tons of drugs and A$45 million ($35 million) in cash and assets.

  • The sting was the largest operation of its kind in Australia, involving some 4,000 Australian officers, with about 9,000 law enforcement involved globally.

What they're saying: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at the briefing the operation "has struck a heavy blow against organized crime ... one that will echo around organized crime around the world."

  • Kershaw said the FBI "had the lead on this," while Aussie police "provided the technical capability to decrypt those messages."
  • "Some of the best ideas come over a couple of beers," he added.

What to watch: The FBI and its European counterpart Europol will announce their own findings later Tuesday, said Anthony Russo, FBI legal attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Australia.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Pacific Northwest soon to be ground zero for record-shattering heat

Computer model projection showing the unusually strong heat dome over the Pacific Northwest on Sunday. (PivotalWeather).

A heat wave is bringing unprecedented high temperatures to the Pacific Northwest — a region of the country typically cooled by the ocean, rather than central air conditioning. The heat will begin Friday and last into early next week.

Why it matters: The heat wave will shatter monthly and all-time temperature records in the Pacific Northwest. Some of the records could break the old milestones by several degrees.

At least one person killed, 99 missing after deadly Miami-area condo collapse

A massive search-and-rescue operation is underway after a portion of a 12-story residential building in Surfside, Florida, collapsed at approximately 1:30 a.m. Thursday, according to AP.

The latest: Officials have accounted for 102 people who lived in the high-rise Champlain Towers South, but 99 people remained unaccounted for by midafternoon, said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade County at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Biden strikes infrastructure deal with bipartisan group of senators

President Biden announced Thursday that he had agreed to a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure plan with a bipartisan group of ten senators, declaring: "We have a deal."

Why it matters: The agreement on the size and scope of an infrastructure package is a major achievement for Biden, who has long been a proponent of bipartisanship, but the compromise still faces serious hurdles in the House and Senate.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!