Server in the so-called cyberbunker: This is where the police discovered traces of "Exclu".
Photo: Press Office State Criminal Police Office Rhineland-Palatinate / EPA-EFE / REX
In a cross-border attack on organized crime, investigators shut down a chat service that is said to have been used primarily by drug dealers.
The State Criminal Police Office of Rhineland-Palatinate announced on Monday that after months of investigations together with Dutch authorities, it was possible to decrypt the data from the crypto communication service "Exclu", to monitor the communication and ultimately to shut down the service.
According to the investigators, the app was a thriving business: Using the messenger service cost 800 euros for the half year.
Recently there should have been 3000 users.
In return, the users, who are said to come primarily from organized crime, were offered special security precautions: a so-called panic button could be used to quickly delete chat histories and documents if the police wanted to confiscate a cell phone.
Investigation complex around the cyberbunker
The investigators of the app got on the trail when they searched the “cyber bunker” on the Moselle in 2019, which is said to have been used specifically by criminals.
The operators were sentenced to high prison terms in the first instance last year.
The evaluation of the server has initiated proceedings against numerous other people, including the operators and users of »Exclu«.
In April 2022, the Dutch police became involved in the investigation.
According to the information, authorities in Sweden, France and Italy were also involved in the investigation.
There was also support from the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the Polish police and Europol.
LKA President Johannes Kunz spoke of "good and trusting cooperation between the European security authorities involved".
The authorities attribute the users of "Exclu" primarily to drug trafficking.
The operation of the service could be punishable if it promotes the commission of criminal offenses, said the spokeswoman for the public prosecutor's office.
The investigations are now to be continued.
European police authorities had already cracked the Encrochat encryption service in 2021, thereby initiating numerous proceedings against users.