The CEO of Phantom Secure was indicted on March 15, along with four associates, following allegations that the Canada-based company had sold “tens of millions of dollars” in altered BlackBerry phones to international drug cartels, reports indicate.
Last week, the Department of Justice apprehended Vincent Ramos in Seattle. He and his associates are charged with racketeering and conspiracy to facilitate drug distribution, crimes that have a penalty of prison for life, the BBC reported. This is the first time U.S. officials have targeted a company for knowingly encrypting technology for outlaws in order to evade law enforcement and obstruct justice, the Justice Department said.
“With one American dying of a drug overdose every nine minutes, our great nation is suffering the deadliest drug epidemic in our history,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Incredibly, some have sought to profit off of this crisis, including by specifically taking advantage of encryption technologies to further criminal activity, and to obstruct, impede, and evade law enforcement, as this case illustrates.”