BC – A coordinated multi-national police operation has resulted in criminal charges in the United States that include drug trafficking and money laundering against five men.
The investigation undertaken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in BC targeted the sale of digitally encrypted communication devices that were used for the purpose of committing offences such as money laundering and drug trafficking.
Vincent Ramos, a Canadian citizen, and four other foreign nationals are facing criminal charges in the United States that include Racketeering Conspiracy to Conduct Enterprise Affairs; Conspiracy to Distribute Narcotics; Aiding and Abetting. Ramos was taken into custody in Washington State on March 7.
“This investigation is a prime example of law enforcement agencies from around the world working together to identify, investigate and charge people involved in transnational criminal activity,” says Assistant Commissioner Jim Gresham, RCMP Criminal Operations Officer, Federal, Investigative Services and Organized Crime. “We remain committed to investigating and disrupting these illegal activities that adversely affect each of our communities.”
It is alleged that Ramos and his associates sold specialized devices through his company Phantom Secure to organized crime groups for the purpose of evading law enforcement, and guaranteed the destruction of evidence within the device if it were compromised. It is expected the arrest of Ramos and the searches and seizures at Phantom Secure offices will have a significant impact on their market.
“When criminals go dark, and law enforcement cannot monitor their phones or access evidence, crime 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 have disabled the communication infrastructure provided by a criminal enterprise to drug traffickers and other violent criminals around the world. We greatly appreciate the partnership with our international counterparts as we continue to target criminals, their money, their assets and their infrastructure to ensure the safety of our nations. When it comes to transnational criminal organizations, we must work collaboratively with our law enforcement partners around the world to disrupt and dismantle these crime syndicates.”
In total, 25 searches of Phantom Secure offices were conducted in the United States, Australia and Canada. In Canada the searches took place in BC and were overseen by RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime. No Canadian charges are pending.
“The indictment of Vincent Ramos and his associates is a milestone against transnational crime,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “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. I want to thank our partners at the Department of Justice, as well as our Australian and Canadian law enforcement partners, for their incredible work on this case.”
“The action taken in the US directly impacts the upper echelons of organised crime both here in Australia and offshore, who until now have been able to confidently control and direct illicit activity like drug importations, money laundering and associated serious criminal offending,” Assistant Commissioner Gaughan, Australian Federal Police (AFP), Assistant Commissioner Organised Crime said. “Our thanks go to our international partners – the FBI and RCMP – who have been outstanding in working methodically around the clock together with us on this unique investigation. Without their cooperation, commitment and shared singular drive, Australian law enforcement agencies would not be announcing this significant result today.”
B.C., Federal Serious and Organized Crime
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