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Four Alleged Associates of Sinaloa Cartel-Linked Encrypted Phone Company Are On the Run

Published: March 16, 2018
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Source: motherboard

Last week, Motherboard reported that the FBI had arrested the CEO of Phantom Secure, a company allegedly providing custom, security-focused BlackBerry phones to the Sinaloa drug cartel, among other criminal groups. But the feds aren’t only going after Phantom’s owner: on Thursday, the Department of Justice announced an indictment against other apparent Phantom staff too, and confirmed what one source told Motherboard before it became public knowledge—that authorities have seized Phantom’s domains used for routing messages.

The Justice Department’s announcement names Kim Augustus Rodd from Phuket, Thailand; Younes Nasri from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates; and Michael Gamboa and Christopher Poquiz both from Los Angeles as alleged co-conspirators of Vincent Ramos, Phantom’s Canada-based CEO. All five are charged with racketeering conspiracy offenses and conspiracy to aid and abet the distribution of narcotics, both of which carry a maximum of life in prison.

Notably, although authorities have arrested Ramos, the four remaining defendants are not in custody, and are currently fugitives, according to the Justice Department press release.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement, “The indictment of Vincent Ramos and his associates is a milestone against transnational crime.”

“Phantom Secure allegedly provided a service designed to allow criminals the world over to evade law enforcement to traffic drugs and commit acts of violent crime without detection. Ramos and his company made millions off this criminal activity, and our takedown sends a serious message to those who exploit encryption to go dark on law enforcement,” he added.

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