Blackberry Crack Five Years After Seizure Leads to Drug Trafficking Mass Arrests

Five men have been arrested in the investigation, two of which are currently in Dubai.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Just because something may take a lot of time does not mean it is not worth doing. Five years after it was first seized, police in Sydney, Australia finally managed to crack an encrypted BlackBerry.


Now, it is set to be the key piece of evidence in one of the state’s longest-running drug importation crackdowns, reported The Sydney Morning Herald. It all happened last April when new technology allowed authorities to finally get into the device.

In its storage, the Blackberry had over 3000 incriminating messages over a one-month period and these have led the authorities to arrest another five members of an alleged criminal syndicate.

The raids were part of a seven-year-long investigation into money laundering and drug trafficking and saw nearly two dozen men implicated.

The latest arrests were of Farrugia, 36, Kanmez, 34, and Mario Lang, 57, all residing in Sydney, and of Benjamin Neil Pitt and Matthew Battah, residing in Dubai. The last two are considered to be the kingpins of the group.

Strike Force Millstream detectives have now arrested the five men. The cracked phone is believed to have belonged to Battah. 

This is the second time a hacked phone plays a key role in this ongoing investigation. Another Blackberry, cracked by Canadian police in 2017, led to the arrest of four other men.

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Now Australian authorities have lodged a request with a Dubai court to extradite the kingpin duo so they can face trial in Australia. In the meantime, Farrugia and Lang have both posted bail at the Downing Centre Local Court.

In Farrugia's bail trial, crown prosecutor Anna Payten said the authorities had amassed significant proof against him, particularly from the Battah Blackberry.

Payten explained how Farrugia was known by the names “Sprinter88”, “Font” and “Flash."

There is substantial evidence that the user of handle Sprinter88 and Flash was a person intimately involved in the supply of prohibited drugs,” Payten said according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Farrugia has now been granted strict conditional bail that will see him stay at home, wear an electronic monitoring device, and report to police consistently while waiting to appear in court again on August 11.

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