Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were investigating a complex network of cocaine distributions and money laundering when they found information on a laptop belonging to Vince Ramos, a Filipino from Vancouver which set off a scandal with wide-reaching ramifications.
The discovery of a document on the laptop of Vince Ramos led to the arrest of a high ranking RCMP official.
47 year old Cameron Ortis, the RCMP’s Director General for National Intelligence Coordination, was charged on Friday under the Security of Information act and the Criminal Code.
FALLOUT FROM SECURITY BREACH
The Government of Canada is now doing damage control, reassuring its Five Eyes allies that it is working to safeguard shared secrets that might have been exposed, as the FBI continue to work with the RCMP to determine the extent of the breach.
Five Eyes (also known as FVEY) is an international intelligence alliance between Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
The UKUSA Agreement outlines the framework for joint cooperation in signals intelligence.
The use of Phantom Secure Communications devices by international drug syndicates were so prevalent that a joint taskforce of police agencies from Canada, Australia and the US was formed.
FILIPINO FROM VANCOUVER MADE MILLIONS SELLING ENCRYPTED CELLPHONES TO MEXICAN DRUG LORDS
Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Vincent Ramos has been living a secret life in Vancouver.
Well known among the Filipino Canadian community, Ramos was a coach for the local flag football team.
In the late 1990s, Ramos spent some time in the Philippines working with the US multi-level marketing company Amway.
He went back to Canada, selling mobile phones for Rogers Communications. Shortly after, Ramos founded a company called Phantom Secure Communications.
PHANTOM SECURE COMMUNICATIONS SOLD ENCRYPTED CELLPHONES TO MEXICAN DRUG CARTELS
Ramos was arrested last year following a US-led police investigation which found that his company was providing encrypted cellphones to drug dealers all over the world, including in Mexico.
To avoid wiretaps, criminals use secure communications technology like those provided by Ramos’ company, Phantom Secure Communications.
Ramos’ company claimed to sell specially encrypted BlackBerrys to clients. The FBI estimates that Phantom Secure Communications had provided over 20,000 BlackBerrys to its clients, with many ending up being seized in Australia following cocaine seizures by authorities there.
Other Phantom Secure Communications were found in Canada being used by gangsters in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
PHANTOM SECURE COMMUNICATIONS GREW USING AMWAY BUSINESS MODEL
Ramos’ company grew exponentially, when word got out that his encryption technology was better than anything else available on the market.
Existing clients would refer new clients to Ramos, who would then charge up to USD3,000 for the devices.
The devices would have their GPS chips removed, and have apps installed that would allow Ramos to remotely wipe the device.
If a client was captured by police, Ramos would be able to delete all data on the device before the authorities could retrieve anything.
MILLION DOLLAR HOMES AND LAMBORGHINIS
Vince Ramos trademarked the Phantom Secure brand in 2012, ostensibly involved in retail store services featuring mobile phones.
The joint team of RCMP and FBI investigators found that Ramos had purchased a home worth USD800,000 in the same year.
Ramos did his best to avoid any interactions with the authorities. Aside from speeding tickets, Ramos was ordered to pay USD$150,000 in back taxes.
Character references submitted in court by his sister-in-law Shellaine Vicera indicated that Ramos was a “generous, helpful, kind spirited” individual, as well as a “family man… always supportive of his family and children.”
After he was arrested in 2018, the FBI seized over USD80 million in assets, which include international bank accounts, servers and crypto currency.
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