Defendant describes system for offering services using Sky ECC

Defendant describes system for offering services using Sky ECC

During court proceedings on Thursday, one of 124 defendants in the massive Encro drug-trafficking trial, explained some of the ways in which criminal groups used encrypted communication networks originating from Antwerp, the Netherlands and France for their activities.

Hassan T. detailed how two types of Sky phones, named after the encrypted messaging network Sky ECC, were used in operations. These were the Antwerp and Dutch phones, ranging between €2,000 to €2,500 per unit. There was also a cheaper but slightly less secure French phone, which could still connect with the first two.

Hassan T. provided the court with information on how traffickers used Sky to issue calls for services, such as drivers, to transport and import drugs. These requests required proof of completion, which was manipulated using a system known as 'borg,' ('deposit' in Dutch).

“You could buy photos on the dark web to show a task was completed or create the impression of a failed job by sharing a press article about a seizure,” he explained. The general idea behind this tactic was to receive payment from the drug traffickers without performing the assigned task.

He confessed to being in contact with presumed network leader, Abdelwahab G., known as Zidane. In 2021, Hassan T. was approached by Zidane for a private jet trip to Brazil. However, he accepted the job but did not complete it, he said.

Further into his testimony, Hassan T. denied knowing Eridan M.G., another suspected trafficker. On the other hand, he acknowledged being acquainted with Badr E.I, also known as 'Smarty,' who operated on a smaller scale. ‘Smarty' and Hassan T. occasionally assisted each other with supplies.

When questioned about a €1,500 ecstasy purchase intended for resale to a Parisian group linked to ‘Smarty’, Hassan T. asserted through his lawyer that he did not dispute the association with ‘Smarty.’

The Encro trial, targeting a vast criminal organisation involved in drug trafficking, was made possible by the decryption of the Encrochat and Sky ECC messaging systems.

The case, which ended up before the Brussels Criminal Court after an extraordinary investigation, began with information gathered by French and Dutch police following the decryption of the Encrochat secure communications network.

This was then supplemented by information from the Sky ECC encrypted messaging platform, popular with traffickers – which the Belgian Federal Judicial Police (PJF) infiltrated in early 2021.

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