In the six weeks since February 20, police seized 27.64 tons of cocaine in the port of Antwerp, including a record delivery of almost 11 tons overnight from April 2-3, the Belgian federal police said in a statement on Monday.
Police specialists were given access to encrypted messages from an encrypted intelligence service called Sky ECC, which revealed detailed information about cocaine deliveries, the statement said.
“During a judicial investigation into a potential criminal organization suspected of having knowingly provided encrypted telephones to the criminal community, police specialists managed to crack the encrypted messages from Sky ECC,” the statement said.
“This data contains elements in current files, but has also opened up new criminal offenses. The international smuggling of cocaine lots plays a prominent role in intercepted reports.”
Police said the investigation is ongoing.
This isn’t the first time law enforcement agencies have infiltrated an encrypted platform used by criminals.
Last year, authorities in France and the Netherlands infiltrated a platform called EncroChat and shared the data through Europol, allowing police to monitor private communications – including photos and millions of messages – made by criminals.
EncroChat, which provided a secure instant messaging service for cell phones, was a “criminal marketplace” according to the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), where 60,000 people worldwide coordinated the distribution of illegal goods, money laundering and plans to kill rivals.
In July, the NCA announced it had arrested 746 people and confiscated £ 54 million ($ 68 million) in cash, 77 firearms and more than two tons of drugs during Operation Venetic, the largest operation of its kind in the UK.
The Dutch police said they had arrested 60 people under the code name “Lemont” and confiscated 25 tons of drugs, 20 million euros, dozen automatic weapons, 25 cars and expensive watches during their investigation.
In a joint press conference with European law enforcement agencies, the Dutch police announced that 19 synthetic drug laboratories had been dismantled.
EncroChat phones cost around £ 1,500 ($ 1,870) on a six-month contract and came with pre-installed apps for instant messaging, calling capabilities, and a kill code so they can be remotely wiped.
CNN’s Emma Reynolds contributed to this report.