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By 16 March 2018 | Categories: news

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Modifying Blackberrys to aid drug cartels might sound like something out of the latest Mission Impossible, but the BBC reports that a Canadian company made a fortune doing exactly that. Phantom Secure has been encrypting Blackberry devices and selling them to criminals such as the infamous Sinaloa Cartel. In the process they have made "tens of millions of dollars".

This was exposed as the U.S. Department of Justice arrested Vincent Ramos, the company’s chief executive in Seattle. Ramos along with four of his colleagues were charged with racketeering and conspiracy to aid the distribution of drugs. The BBC notes this signals the first time the U.S. has acted upon a company for deliberately producing encrypted technology for criminals.

The devices that Phantom Secure had on offer didn’t come cheap, with subscription around $2 000-$3 000 for six months of use, with 20 000 modified handsets apparently in use.

US attorney Adam Braverman noted that although most devices on the market offer encryption, Phantom Secure were targeted since, “this company was specifically-designed to aid international drug trafficking organisations."

Strangely, at time of publishing the Phantom Secure website was still active. 

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