Arrest the Phantom Secure CEO for selling modified BlackBerry to the narco

Lester Mason
March 13, 2018

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A complaint filed in the Southern District of California on Thursday charges Vincent Ramos, the founder and CEO of Canada-based Phantom, with racketeering conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs, as well as conspiracy to distribute narcotics, and aiding and abetting.

The CEO of a tech company specializing in encrypted phones was arrested because his devices allegedly helped worldwide drug cartels and other criminal organizations conduct business. What's more, the company allegedly also had the ability to clean phones of data remotely when one of the phone's users was arrested, making it harder for law enforcement officials to collect evidence. The complaint alleges that the company was created specifically to aid criminals and that the "upper echelon members" of infamous groups including the Sinaloa cartel-a drug trafficking, money laundering, and organized crime syndicate-bought the phones.

Police agencies across the world have quietly been battling encryption services like this for almost a decade, even going toe-to-toe with Apple in search of a security backdoor to their products.

Arrest the Phantom Secure CEO for selling modified BlackBerry to the narco
Arrest the Phantom Secure CEO for selling modified BlackBerry to the narco

Undercover agents, running a sting operation, met with Ramos in Las Vegas last February, according to the complaint.

"We made it - we made it specifically for this [drug trafficking] too", Ramos allegedly told undercover police.

The FBI argues that Ramos knew exactly how his phones were being used, and in fact created Phantom for the goal of facilitating criminal activity. However, its founder and CEO, Vincent Ramos, has been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on several charges, all of which are related to selling locked-down BlackBerry phones to members of illegal organizations such as the Sinaloa drug cartel and the Hells Angels. According to the report, besides the removal of the camera and microphone, the customized BlackBerry models each have their GPS system, internet browser, and normal messaging system removed.

To catch Ramos in the act, Canada's Royal Canadian Mounted Police (AKA horse cops) posed as drug traffickers purchasing Phantom devices and asked if the phones would protect them "sending MDMA to Montreal" (the company assured them it was "totally fine"). The cartel is infamous for global drug trafficking, money laundering, kidnappings, and bribery.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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