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FBI encrypted phone app leads to hundreds of global arrests

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FBI encrypted phone app leads to hundreds of global arrests

Hundreds of criminal gang members around the world were tricked into using a phone encryption app operated by the FBI to plan their heinous crimes, leading to their arrests, according to authorities.

Law enforcement officers in Australia and New Zealand began to unveil the scope of what is known as Operation Trojan Shield late Monday.

Authorities in Europe were scheduled to make their own announcement early Tuesday, with the FBI’s San Diego field office doing the same at noon.

Antipodean authorities credited the scheme with the arrest of more than 250 individuals and the seizure of more than 100 illegal firearms and other weapons, as well as millions of dollars in cash, drugs and other assets.

In addition, Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Reece Kershaw told reporters that the app helped thwart 21 murder plots, including one that would have targeted a family of five.

Kershaw added that arrests were made in 18 countries, including the US. Other countries where police raids were executed included the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Kershaw said the idea for the app, called AN0M, was hatched by American and Australian law enforcement officers “over a couple of beers” in 2018. Undercover Australian agents would give phones with the AN0M app pre-installed to certain high-level criminals who recommended the app to their associates.

“These criminal influencers put the AFP in the back pocket of hundreds of alleged offenders,” Kershaw said.

The phones could not make calls or send emails, and they could only be obtained through the black market. They also gave authorities access to up to 25 million encrypted messages in real time.

According to Australian media, one underworld figure who played a key role in encouraging the use of the app was fugitive drug trafficker Hakan Ayik.

“I think given the threat that he faces, he’s best off handing himself into us as soon as he can,” said Kershaw of Ayik, who is believed to be in Turkey. “What you’re seeing is that he was one of the coordinators of this particular device. So he’s essentially set up his own colleagues. And my view would be the sooner he hands himself in and to look after his family, he’s a wanted individual, the better for him and his family.”

According to Kershaw, some of those arrested in Australia were “members of outlaw motorcycle gangs, Australian Mafia, Asian crime syndicates and serious and organized crime groups” who trafficked drugs Down Under “at an industrial scale.”

“One local [motorcycle gang] chapter we discovered … were making $20 million net a month out of the peddling of drugs into this country,” he said.

The Australian newspaper reported that arrests of suspected members of South American drug cartels as well as Middle Eastern and European crime syndicates are expected to be announced throughout the day.

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Los Angeles dentist charged with sexually abusing female patients

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Los Angeles dentist charged with sexually abusing female patients

A Los Angeles dentist is accused of sexually abusing nine female patients at his office over the course of several years, officials announced Monday.

Emad Fathy Moawad, 50, was arrested and charged with over a dozen counts of sexual battery by restraint for allegedly molesting the women during procedures from 2013 to 2018, prosecutors said.

The victims ranged in age from 27 to 73.

“This case is especially concerning because its victims are low-income people and immigrants who are less likely to report crimes due to fear,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement.

Moawad was jailed on nearly $2 million bail.

The charges come after Moawad was sued in 2019 by a patient who alleged he molested her while she was under anesthesia two years earlier, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Moawad’s alleged attacks stopped in December 2018 after a dental assistant recorded one of them, according to the suit.

With Post wires

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Chuck Schumer apologizes for using ‘retarded’ to describe disabled children

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Chuck Schumer apologizes for using 'retarded' to describe disabled children

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) apologized Monday for using the word “retarded” to describe disabled children during a podcast appearance over the weekend.

Schumer was a guest Sunday on the “1 NYCHA” podcast, which examines public housing and related issues, when the topic turned to historic opposition to low-income and other forms of public housing.

“When I first was an assemblyman, they wanted to build a congregate living place for retarded children,” recalled Schumer, who represented parts of Brooklyn in Albany between 1975 and 1980. “The whole neighborhood was against it! These are harmless kids. They just needed some help.

“We got it done,” Schumer added. “Took a while.”

Video of the podcast was posted on the “1 NYCHA” Facebook page with the word “retarded” deleted from the closed captioning.

“For decades, Sen. Schumer has been an ardent champion for enlightened policy and full funding of services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Schumer spokesman Angelo Roefaro told the Post.

“He used an inappropriate and outdated word in his description of an effort he supported that was led by the AHRC to build a group home in his Brooklyn district decades ago to provide housing and services to children with developmental disabilities,” Roefaro added. “He is sincerely sorry for his use of the outdated and hurtful language.”

AHRC refers to the organization formerly known as the Association for the Help of Retarded Children. Since the period referenced by Schumer, the organization has dropped its name and only goes by the acronym.

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Vacationer dies snorkeling in Florida Keys

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Vacationer dies snorkeling in Florida Keys

A 25-year-old woman vacationing in the Florida keys died while snorkeling on Sunday, authorities said.

Katherine Boukharov was pulled to shore and given CPR after she was spotted face down and motionless in the water at Bahia Honda State Park, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said.

Autopsy results are pending but foul play isn’t suspected, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

Two other people have died while snorkeling elsewhere in the Florida Keys since April, the Miami Herald reported.

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