Hakan Ayik, an infamous drug trafficker who also popularized the use of certain brands of encrypted phones around the world, was arrested during a series of dramatic raids in Turkey last week. At one point a group of heavily armed Turkish tactical officers in brown and gray camouflage piled outside an apartment and banged on the door repeatedly. They then smashed the door down and moved inside with a riot shield, according to a video tweeted by Turkey’s Minister of the Interior. The video then showed a photograph of Ayik, shirtless and on his knees while staring straight ahead, surrounded by multiple officers.
It was a moment that capped off the arrest of Australia’s most wanted man, and a sign that Turkey is no longer a safe haven to organized criminals. But it was also something of a closing act on Anom, a brand of encrypted phone that the FBI secretly took over and managed for years after inserting a backdoor into the product, allowing agents to read tens of millions of messages sent across it. Ayik unknowingly helped the FBI gain that piercing insight into organized crime by selling the devices to other criminal associates. Given Ayik’s position as a trusted authority on what communications tools drug traffickers should use, one associate even referred to him as the “encryption king” in an Anom message I’ve seen.
To those in the underground, it was unclear if Ayik would ever be captured, according to multiple associates of Ayik that 404 Media spoke to. 404 Media granted the people anonymity to protect them from retaliation.