AustraliaCanadian sold phones to Aust gangs: court
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Vincent Ramos, the Canadian head of an encrypted phone company that sold its devices to Australian criminal gangs and Mexican drug cartels, has been sentenced to nine years' prison in the US.
Ramos, 41, appeared in the US District Court in San Diego on Tuesday.
Judge William Hayes described Ramos as "a very talented businessman" who "understood what he was doing was criminal", while prosecutors described the widespread use of his phones by criminals as "staggering".
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Ramos has agreed to forfeit $US80 million ($A115 million) in cash, gold bars and other goods.
"I am sorry and accept responsibility for my actions that have led me here today," Ramos, wearing a khaki prison jumpsuit, told the judge.
The court heard Ramos marketed and sold his devices to criminals, including Owen Hanson, the former University of Southern California footballer who created the violent criminal and drug trafficking enterprise ODOG.
ODOG shipped large quantities of cocaine to Australia.
Hanson was sentenced in 2017 to 21 years' prison and his second-in-command, Giovanni "Tank" Brandolino, received an 87-month sentence.
Ramos was an influential figure in the global underworld, particularly in Australia.
The FBI estimated 10,000 of Ramos' 20,000 Phantom Secure devices in service around the world were used by Australian criminals.
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Two dead crocodiles, a python and a turtle are among a number of reptiles seized from the Sydney home of a man linked to a suspected illegal animal export business. A 25-year-old man has been charged with 169 animal abuse and trafficking offences after police raided a property in Lethbridge Park on Thursday. © NSW Police Two dead crocodiles were found at the Lethbridge Park property. © NSW Police Two dead crocodiles were found at the Lethbridge Park property. During the search, officers found 12 shingleback lizards, one Stimson's python, three young monitor lizards and a South American mata mata turtle.
The court was told US, Australian and Canadian authorities could not find one Phantom Secure customer who was not a criminal.
His Phantom Secure encrypted phones were designed to thwart authorities and facilitate the distribution of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine to Australia, the US, Mexico, Canada, Thailand and Europe.
Servers were set up in Panama and Hong Kong to stifle law enforcement from detecting users.
Phantom Secure technicians gutted BlackBerry handsets of their original hardware and software and installed new encryption software and an email program.
Ramos, a father of three young children, entered a guilty plea to a racketeering conspiracy charge and faced a maximum 20-year prison sentence.
Prosecutors asked for 14 years.
Ramos admitted that at least 450 kilograms of cocaine was distributed using Phantom Secure devices.
He was arrested after a joint FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, NSW Police, NSW Crime Commission and Canadian law enforcement investigation.
Four charged, $9m of drugs seized in NSW.
Four men will face a NSW court after police busted their secret lab in the Southern Highlands and seized a large quantity of drugs, including cocaine.
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