Inside Sweden's Massive EncroChat and SkyECC encrypted phones Gang Trial
"Everything that comes into Scandinavia comes in from the south, either via the ferries, or by the bridge, and is distributed up to Stockholm, to Gothenburg, to Norway, and Finland, so it's like a hub”
The attack on Musti was part of a broader plan to wipe out the members of the circle around Amir Mekky, now 24.
Mekky, a Danish citizen with Moroccan heritage, was the leader of a gang of drug smugglers and contract killers known in the Spanish city of Málaga as Los Suecos, “The Swedes”, who carried out two bomb attacks and two brutal shootings in Spain in the space of four months.
With contacts in Morocco, links to the Dutch-Moroccan gangster Ridouan Taghi, Mekky had since 2016 taken a big slice in the drug market, both in Sweden and beyond.
A relative of Mekky’s in Finland was arrested while receiving several hundred kilograms of cocaine from the Stockholm ferry.
But the contract on Musti was not really about drugs, but revenge.
The year before, he had been held by police suspected of arranging the getaway car for the hitman who gunned down Karolin Hakim, a newly qualified doctor in a relationship with veteran criminal Naief Adawi, in August 2019.
The shooting shocked Sweden. Hakim, 31, was shot dead while holding her two-month-old baby in her arms.
Police believe they were aiming to kill Adawi, who was affiliated with an Alliance member, but shot the wrong person.
Musti was released due to lack of evidence. But prosecutors believe Adawi, now 38, was still hungry for revenge after the death of his girlfriend.
"They chose to murder a woman, so now they're going to have me in the game," pledged “Stiffherb”, the EncroChat alias police have linked to Adawi. "Vengeance is coming," he wrote in another message.
Adawi had been jailed in 2010 for planning Denmark's biggest-ever bank robbery, taking €10 million (about £8.5 million) from a cash transport company.
He was not the only powerful figure to want Mekky and those around him dead. In June 2018, a young man was kidnapped in Malmö, and then returned three days later, dazed, bruised, and with a Star of David cut into his back.
The man's half-brother was Daniel Johansson Petrovski, a friend of Adawi who police suspected of being one of Sweden's biggest drug smugglers.
Known as "Dani the Jew" or “Dani J” (despite not being Jewish), and described in the EncroChat messages as "our Swedish friend," Petrovski lived a life far from Malmö's troubled suburbs.
He had rented an apartment in the city's landmark Turning Turso tower, and in recent years, had operated from a high-rise apartment on the Barcelona beachfront, an Azimut 43s motor yacht worth €230,000 (about £195,000) floating in the marina outside.
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During the two and a bit months that the Swedish police had access to EncroChat before the service shut down because of the police operation on 12 June 2020, Petrovski travelled to Aruba, a Dutch-controlled Caribbean island just off the coast of Colombia, and also back to the Netherlands.
It's no coincidence that Petrovski and Mekky were living in Spain.
"You have the connections to South America, to Lebanon, and to Morocco, where all the drugs come from, so it's essential to be established in Spain," Andersson, the senior cop in southern Sweden, said.
The sheer scale of Petrovski's operation - and his large cash reserves - made his family a target for kidnap by Mekky and his cronies.
"In Sweden, the only people who use physical cash today are the criminals, so if you want to get money, you have to get it from other criminals," said Andersson. "I think they saw [Petrovski's brother] as an easy target because blood is thicker than water, and we assume that they got paid. But then the revenge came a few weeks later."
Twelve days after the kidnapping, a gun pummelled round after round into the Malmö cyber café where Mekky was hanging out, killing three people and injuring three others, including Mekky.
Swedish police believe that the murders of Karolin Hakim, and of the record producer Flemur Beqiri, an old friend and associate of both Petrovski and Adawi, were both retaliation for the attack on Mekky. Beqiri was shot near his house in Battersea on Christmas Eve, 2019.
And in the spring of 2020, the members of the Alliance wanted to wipe Mekky out for good.
"I want to kidnap his father," wrote the EncroChat alias Waterbee, which police have linked to Petrovski.
Petrovski's lawyers say prosecutors need to prove he sent all the messages from the Waterbee alias. "I want to leave his head in the middle of Stortorget [Malmö's main square]....because that's exactly what he said he would do to my brother when he had him."
When Mekky was finally arrested in Dubai and extradited to Spain, a third member of the Alliance, with the alias Sonictin, reached out to his Spanish associates.
"You have guys who can kill a person in Malaga Prison?" he wrote, before sending a picture of Mekky. "They took him. I want to kill him.”
The Alliance certainly has funds.
"We've got to have cash and pieces [guns] for this war," Petrovski is alleged to have written under the Waterbee alias in a message to Sonictin, one of his associates, at the end of April. "Without pieces, we're done for".
At one point in the chat, Sonictin ran through the prices on the heads of Mekky's associates for a contractor: 600,000 kronor (€60,000, £48,000) for Musti, 500,000 kronor for the other five targets. He tells another that he and Petrovski will share the bill.
"I don't pay for attempts, or like last time, for jamming revolvers," he wrote to one. "Let them either injure them or kill them. Then they can come asking for money."
According to one of Musti's neighbours in Tyringe, he stayed in the flat in the southern municipality for nearly a month, quarrelling loudly with his girlfriend.
But the group still struggled to execute the hit, although that didn’t stop one of the men planning to take control of the drugs market in Musti’s local city.
“You always have the drugs underneath the surface," said Andersson, the superintendent, "because that's the income for both parties."
After the jammed gun incident, a 27-year-old man with the EncroChat alias Rocktoxic agreed to arrange the next hit, but when it was supposed to happen, he claimed someone had smashed the windscreen on the getaway car and stolen the weapon.
In court in November, he admitted that this had been a lie, that he had been playing a double game to avoid being on the hit list himself.
As the case enters its final stages the defence will try to argue that this means that, at in the cases where Rocktoxic was involved, no murder was really planned.
This is not the only problem for the prosecution.
"Our defence is that what is in the messages does not constitute preparation for a crime," argues Markus Bergdahl, Petrovski's defence lawyer. "Under Swedish law, you have to either pay directly for a gun, for example, or you can supply a gun yourself. Our client doesn't handle anything except a phone."
Discussing severing the head of your rival's father and leaving it lying in the main city square might not be enough.
"It may be bad to say, 'I want him dead, or I want him killed', but it's not criminal."