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Chief Executive and Four Associates Indicted for Conspiring with Global Drug Traffickers by Providing Encryption Services to Evade Law Enforcement and Obstruct Justice:Vincent Ramos, the chief executive of Canada-based Phantom Secure, and four of his associates were indicted by a federal grand jury today on charges that they knowingly and intentionally participated in a criminal enterprise that facilitated the transnational importation and distribution of narcotics through the sale and service of encrypted communications.

This is the first time the U.S. government has targeted 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.

“With one American dying of a drug overdose every nine minutes, our great nation is suffering the deadliest drug epidemic in our history,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “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.  The Department of Justice will aggressively prosecute not just drug traffickers, but those who help them spread addiction and death in our communities. I want to thank the FBI, DEA, Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security Investigations, Washington State Police, the Bellingham and Blaine Police Departments, and all of our law enforcement partners around the world, including Australia, Canada, Panama, Hong Kong, and Thailand for their hard work on this case. Today’s indictment sends a clear message that drug traffickers and criminals cannot hide, because we will hunt them down and find them wherever they are.”

“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. Phantom Secure was designed to profit off of criminal activity committed by transnational criminal organizations around the world. We are committed to shutting these criminals down.”

“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.”

Ramos was taken into custody in Bellingham, Washington, on March 7.  Ramos made his first appearance in the Western District of Washington and will face charges in San Diego. The remaining four defendants are fugitives.

According to court documents, Phantom Secure advertised its products as impervious to decryption, wiretapping or legal third-party records requests. Phantom Secure also guaranteed the destruction of evidence contained within a device if it was compromised, either by an informant or because it fell into the hands of law enforcement.

The indictment alleges that as a result of its efforts to facilitate international crime, Phantom Secure has generated approximately $80 million in annual revenue since 2008 and facilitated drug trafficking, obstruction of justice, and violent crime around the world.

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