The United States Department of Justice indicted 5 individuals for their work with Phantom Secure, a company that made “black” phones for users of all sorts. It’s not the making of no-tracking smartphones that got the folks with Phantom Secure in trouble. It was the providing of these phones to international drug dealers that did them in.
“When criminals go dark, and law enforcement cannot monitor their phones or access evidence, crimes cannot be solved, criminals cannot be stopped and lives can be lost,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “As a result of this groundbreaking prosecution, we will disable the communication infrastructure provided by a criminal enterprise to drug traffickers and other violent criminals.”
The folks at the DOJ claimed this targeting of Phantom Secure was a milestone in a rather specific sort of way. This was the first US government targeting of a company and its principals “for knowingly and intentionally conspiring with criminal organizations by providing them with the technological tools to evade law enforcement and obstruct justice while committing transnational drug trafficking.” There’s a first time for everything.
The DOJ indicted Vincent Ramos, the chief executive of Canada-based Phantom Secure and caught a whole lot of drug dealers and stopped a whole lot of drug deals as a result. The US DOJ, Australian Federal Police, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police conducted 25 searches of houses in the past 2 weeks in associated investigations.
Over that span of time, they also searched the offices of Phantom Secure associates in basically every city they’re set up in. That includes Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, and in countries Australia and Canada, “seizing Phantom Secure devices, assets, and evidence of the charged crimes.” So if you’ve been using Phantom Secure to hide your criminal activities – you might just be in trouble very, very soon.
“Phantom Secure was designed to profit off of criminal activity committed by transnational criminal organizations around the world,” said Braverman. “We are committed to shutting these criminals down.”
NOTE: This Phantom Secure company is NOT the same as the folks who make BlackPhone. That’s Silent Circle, a completely different company. That said – if you’re a criminal and you’re using a smartphone to do criminal things, you might want to check yourself before you wreck yourself.