US announces $5 million reward for man who sold encrypted phones to drug traffickers

The reward was announced by the US State Department in conjunction with the Swedish Police Authority.

Photo: OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images

The United States offered a $5 million reward for Maximilian Rivkin, who marketed an encrypted communications network for drug traffickersunaware that the technology was developed by the FBI.

The Swedish man has been a fugitive since the dismantling of the ANOM network in 2021, an operation that led to the arrest of 800 people on three continents, as well as the seizure of 38 tons of drugs and 48 million dollars in various currencies.

Rivkin was named in a US indictment at the time for trafficking, money laundering and racketeering.derived from Operation Trojan Shield.

"Rivkin was the administrator of an encrypted communication service used by criminals around the world," the State Department said in its reward announcement.

“His communications on the platform implicated him in various nefarious activities, including his alleged involvement in drug trafficking, money laundering, conspiracy to murder, and other violent acts,” according to the report.

The department did not say where it suspects Rivkin might be hiding.either. Authorities said he has scars on his knee and fingers, as well as a tattoo of three monkeys on his right arm. Nicknames for him reportedly include "Malmo," "Teamsters," "Microsoft," and "Max."

The department believes that the Swede, without his knowledge, was a central piece of the operation developed by the FBI.

In 2018, the law enforcement agency forced a man who had built encrypted phones for criminals to develop an updated version for which the FBI would have the unique digital master key, allowing them to collect and read all communications through the system.

With the man's help, the system was marketed as ANOM and promoted by unsuspecting criminal “influencers” like Rivkin, who took a leading role in convincing others to use it.

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Nathan Rivera
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