Phantom Secure Boss Customized Phones for the Sinaloa Cartel
March 12, 2018 12:51 PM   Subscribe

CEO Gets Busted for Selling BlackBerry Phones to a Drug Cartel FBI arrested Vincent Ramos, the founder and CEO of Canada-based Phantom, with charges of racketeering conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs, as well as conspiracy to distribute narcotics, and aiding and abetting.
posted by Yellow (9 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I was thinking this morning when I read this story that the prudent way to be in such a business is to only manufacture/wholesale and be always one or more steps removed from the end-user, at least with regard to sales.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:04 PM on March 12, 2018

Yeah, this guy seems like an idiot to me. He apparently knew who his clients were, so he could have predicted interest from the law... so he needed to put in some plausibly deniable process, the more automated the better. “This phone is for the privacy conscious and so of course it’s an essential aspect of our business that we have minimal contact with our clients and don’t know who they are.” Have the remote wiping done automatically by sending a text message to a particular phone number. It seems pretty technologically simple when you’re already setting up a private communications network through HK and so on.

Seems like a number of elementary failures of fieldcraft? If I go into my local headshop and ask “which one of these magnificent contraptions is the best for SMOKING DRUGS?” even the stoned guy behind the counter will mutter something about them being water pipes for tobacco / pleasing home decorations, assuming he doesn’t immediately kick me out as an obvious narc.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 2:15 PM on March 12, 2018 [4 favorites]

I think the real headline is that someone actually paid money for a Blackberry.
posted by 4ster at 2:27 PM on March 12, 2018 [4 favorites]

someone actually paid money for a Blackberry

That fact that Google Play Services kicks up a fuss several times a day about being denied access to my calendar, contacts, camera and microphone has me on the edge of plucking my BlackBerry Passport out of the junk box, rotted browser or not.
posted by CynicalKnight at 4:19 PM on March 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm not worried for him. He's a CEO, he'll have a short vacation in white collar prison, then be released after 6 months. After all, he's not REALLY a danger to society. Business as usual!
posted by BlueHorse at 4:23 PM on March 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised the people behind this weren't more careful in their sales pitch. That said, the prosecution is using some pretty dumb shit like usernames to make their case, so I have little doubt that the quoted statements are very much cherry picked and probably also out of context.
posted by wierdo at 5:48 PM on March 12, 2018

Oh, and maybe try turning off the voice search stuff if you want play services to stop trying to access your microphone. ;)
posted by wierdo at 5:49 PM on March 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

It seems like they could have lowered their risk by maintaining even some very minimal deniability. I mean, this stuff is just dumb:

The RCMP then asked if it was safe to send messages such as “sending MDMA to Montreal,” to which Phantom replied it was “totally fine.” ...

“We made it—we made it specifically for this [drug trafficking] too,” Ramos told undercover agents, according to a transcript included in the complaint.

posted by Dip Flash at 8:56 PM on March 12, 2018

try turning off the voice search stuff

That was the very first thing I did after inserting the SIM. Didn't matter. Google can sense me and now it wants me.
posted by CynicalKnight at 11:20 AM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

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