The operation between Australia and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation caught criminals in Australia, Asia, South America and the Middle East involved in the global narcotics trade, police said.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the operation “dealt a severe blow against organized crime, not only in this country, but will have an impact on organized crime around the world.”
“This is a watershed moment in the history of law enforcement in Australia,” he told reporters in Sydney.
Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said police raids in 18 countries captured hundreds of suspects. Interpol and the FBI said on social media that they would hold press conferences later Tuesday.
Australia said it had arrested 224 people, including members of outlawed motorcycle gangs, while New Zealand said it had arrested 35 people.
The operation, which was conceived by the Australian police and the FBI in 2018, saw officials in the United States take control of the messaging app ANOM popular with organized crime networks.
When a figure from the Australian underworld began distributing the app to his associates as a secure means of communication, the police were able to monitor his messages.
“We have been in the back pockets of organized crime,” Kershaw said at the same news conference.
“All they talk about is drugs, violence, beatings among themselves, innocent people who are going to be killed.”
An assassination plot involved plans to attack a cafe with a machine gun, while a family of five was also targeted. Authorities said they were able to prevent these attacks.
Executing the most search warrants in Australia in one day, police on Monday seized 104 firearms and nearly AU $ 45 million ($ 34.9 million) in cash.
A total of 525 charges have already been filed, but authorities expect more in the coming weeks.