Canadian sentenced for selling encrypted phones to criminals

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A Canadian man who sold encrypted Blackberry smartphones to criminals worldwide has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

The San Diego Union-Tribune says Vincent Ramos was sentenced Tuesday in San Diego for helping clients including the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico and Hells Angels in Australia.

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Prosecutors say another client was a global drug-trafficking organization run by former University of Southern California football player Owen Hanson.

Authorities say it’s the first conviction of its kind in the U.S.

The phones sent encrypted text messages through a closed network based in Hong Kong and Panama.

Ramos, who lives in the Vancouver area, made millions. He pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy. In a letter, Ramos told the judge he turned a blind eye to the drug trade’s use of his phones.