Sunday 6/20/21

Nearly 100 people detained in Finland in gigantic FBI-led operation

The Finnish authorities have seized more than 500 kilos of drugs, several dozen of weapons and hundreds of thousands of euros in cash.
Photo: Finland police.
Photo: Finland police.

The Finnish Police participated in a major global law enforcement operation led by the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). For Finland, 'operation Greenlight' contributed to the fight against organised drug trafficking, in particular, and resulted in large drug seizures.

On Monday 7 June, law enforcement authorities conducted an exceptionally large number of apprehensions and searches of premises across the world.

Major operations also took place in Finland; the Finnish authorities conducted several dozen apprehensions and searches in the country, and also in other countries in coordination with the local authorities, on suspicion of narcotics offences.

According to a Finnish Police press release, the leadership of this international covert operation was assumed by the FBI, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Dutch and Swedish Police. The other partners comprised the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) and law enforcement authorities from 16 countries, including Finland.

During the investigations connected with the operation, the Finnish authorities have seized more than 500 kilos of drugs, several dozen weapons and hundreds of thousands of euros in cash, and apprehended almost a hundred people.

Most of the criminal investigations are still underway, but a joint investigation between the Eastern and Western Uusimaa and Helsinki Police Departments, NBI and Customs, connected with a large marijuana seizure, was recently referred to the prosecutor for consideration of charges. During this investigation the authorities seized, among others, automatic guns and more than 145 kilos of marijuana.

Marijuana apprehended during the 'operation Greenlight'. Photo: Finland Customs.

Marijuana apprehended during the 'operation Greenlight'. Photo: Finland Customs.

In Tampere, Customs conducted a search in storage premises which were used for the production of firearm parts with 3D printers. Two active firearms, a large number of parts and a lot of ammunition were seized from the premises.

Monitored communications

During the operation, the FBI was able to monitor encrypted communications between criminals in different countries. Information about those communications was disseminated to law enforcement authorities in the partner countries.

Firearms seized during the operation Greenlight. Photo: Finland Police.

"On the basis of the information the FBI shared with the Finnish authorities, we were able to direct our actions to detect crime and open several criminal investigations. In Finland, actions have been carried out in close cooperation between the local police departments, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Customs. The criminal investigations are connected with organised crime, drug trafficking in particular, says Detective Chief Inspector Kimmo Sainio of the NBI, who led the operation in Finland.

The encrypted communication platform exploited in the operation was developed by the FBI. Many criminals across the world, including in Finland, started to use the platform after law enforcement authorities had managed to infiltrate the other encrypted communication platforms, such as EncroChat and SkyECC.

Operation Greenlight
Active sub-machine guns found in a soundproof space during a search of premises. Customs believes that the space was used for testing firearms. Photo: Customs.

Active sub-machine guns found in a soundproof space during a search of premises. Photo: Customs.

According to the FBI, it created the platform to fill the communication void after the takedown of the other platforms, and it subsequently shared communications sent on the platform with law enforcement authorities for their actions against organised crime and drug trafficking.

The encrypted communication platform was active from October 2019 to June 2021. During this period, the platform had around 12,000 users in more than a hundred countries, and the FBI collected and processed up to 27 million messages sent on the platform.

Platform used by criminals

"The FBI spontaneously shared with partner countries the data it considered relevant to these countries on the basis of the language or country of residence of the individuals.

According to the FBI, the platform was only used by criminals," says Detective Chief Inspector Sainio.

The Finnish criminal investigations continue and, upon their completion, information about them will be provided by respective heads of investigation at the police departments, NBI and Customs.

*Second photo included within the text: Firearms seized during the operation. Photo: Finland Police.