Major Cybercrime Crackdown: Encrypted Messenger Exclu Seized

Major Cybercrime Crackdown: Encrypted Messenger Exclu Seized

The infamous encrypted messenger service, Exclu, was hacked by Dutch police to spy on criminal gangs for over five months.

So far, authorities have arrested 48 people in connection with Exclu, discovered two drug labs and a cocaine-processing facility, and confiscated $4.3 million, several kilograms of drugs, and luxury items.

European law-enforcement authorities have seized Exclu, an encrypted communication service that cybercriminals used as their primary channel to carry out organized crime, mainly trading drugs.

According to authorities, 48 people have been arrested so far in connection with the service and seizure of guns, drugs, and millions in cash. Reportedly, police raided 79 locations in the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium on Friday. The arrested individuals were operators, administrators, and users of Exclu.

The investigation into the encrypted communication service, identified as Exclu Messenger Service, was started in September 2020. Their probe revealed that Exclu was offered as a smartphone app and came with a 6-month license, costing around 800 euros or $860. The service had 3,000 users, of which around 750 were based in the Netherlands.

“Exclu made it possible to exchange messages, photos, notes, voice memos, chat conversations, and videos with other users,” Dutch police revealed. The service was popular among criminals for its high level of security.

After starting their investigation into the Exclu secret communication service, authorities hacked the platform and accessed the messages passed between criminal gangs for five months before carrying out the raids.

Dutch, French, Italian, and Swedish police participated in this investigation, which was supervised by Eurojust and Europol. At least two drug labs, a cocaine-processing facility, four million euros (or $4.3 million), several kilograms of drugs, and luxury goods were confiscated from the suspects.

Exclu isn’t the only encrypted online chat platform shut down by law enforcement. Back in June 2020, encrypted communication provider EncroChat was forced to cease operations after suffering a malware attack.

In July 2020, however, authorities dismantled the entire infrastructure of EncroChat and arrested over 800 individuals, including some prominent crime figures, by using information acquired through EncroChat.

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