A federal grand jury in San Diego has indicted two men linked to a Canadian company on racketeering and drug charges over allegations they helped import and distribute narcotics around the world through the sale of encrypted communications devices.
The U.S. Justice Department says the indictment alleges that devices from Canada-based Sky Global are designed to prevent law enforcement from monitoring the communications between members of transnational criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking and money laundering.
The indictment alleges that Sky Global installs sophisticated encryption software in cellphones that allow users to communicate with each other in a closed network through encrypted servers in Canada and France.
It alleges that Sky Global used the system to facilitate the importation, exportation, and distribution of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine into Australia, Asia, Europe, and North America, including the United States and Canada.
The indictment also alleges the system was used to help launder the proceeds of drug trafficking and obstruct investigations.
The U.S. Justice Department says Jean-Francois Eap, Sky Global’s chief executive officer, and Thomas Herdman, a former distributor of the devices, are charged with conspiracy to violate the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
Warrants were issued for their arrests Friday following an investigation that included the RCMP.
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“The indictment alleges that Sky Global generated hundreds of millions of dollars providing a service that allowed criminal networks around the world to hide their international drug trafficking activity from law enforcement,” Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said in the release.
“Companies who do this are perpetuating the deadliest drug epidemic in our nation’s history.”
The U.S. Justice Department says on March 10, Europol announced that judicial and law enforcement authorities in Belgium, France and the Netherlands had wiretapped Sky Global’s servers and monitored hundreds of millions of messages by Sky Global’s users.
It says the investigation in Europe resulted in hundreds of arrests, the seizure of thousands of kilograms of cocaine and methamphetamine, hundreds of firearms, and millions of euros.
RCMP Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald said in the release that technological advancements can lead to increased levels of criminal sophistication, but also new tools for police to combat crime.
“The RCMP will continue to adopt new technologies and strategies to keep our communities safe,” he said.
“Collaboration with our international policing partners, such as in this case with the FBI and DEA, has become an integral part in the ever-evolving fight against organized crime.”
Sky Global Inc. has corporate offices in Vancouver.
© 2021 The Canadian Press