Our exclusive picture shows the travel documents Vincent Ramos, 41, used to set up his Phantom Secure Technology company in the capital.
He provided devices and phones to the Sinaloa drugs cartel in Mexico, run by notorious Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, who was caged for life earlier this month.
El Chapo, 62, was dubbed “overwhelming evil” by a New York judge as he was found guilty of trafficking tons of cocaine, heroin and hash into the US and engaging in multiple murder conspiracies over more than 30 years.
He was aided by Canadian Ramos, who after forming his firm here established two bank accounts that saw €12,884,072 go through AIB between February 24, 2015 and March 27, 2018.
But when investigators from the Gardai’s Criminal Assets Bureau swooped on Ramos’ ‘ghost office’ in central Dublin on March 20, 2018, they found the Mexican cartel’s trusted associate had just €525,996 in one account and €10,120 in another.
Detectives quickly established the office had “not been occupied for a long time” and appeared to be “configured as a software development office containing two desks”.
Cash in the Irish accounts was sent from accounts registered in the British Virgin Islands and Lichtenstein.
By the time CAB swooped on his bogus office, Ramos was being held by the FBI and US Marshalls on suspicion of his company being “involved in the operation of a worldwide encrypted telecommunications network which was associated for the purpose of aiding and abetting the importation and distribution of illegal drugs throughout the world”.
Although he had been a major target for the FBI, CAB had already launched their own probe after receiving intelligence about his business transactions here.
He was finally caught after he offered to provide undercover FBI agents with the illegal devices.
In submissions to the High Court after Ramos’ cash was frozen, CAB claimed Phantom Secure Technology was running since 2008 as an “organised criminal enterprise” by selling encrypted devices between $2,000 and $3,000.
It operated by stripping phones of software before replacing it with its own technology that allowed the gangs to arrange drugs shipments through the now encrypted devices.
Cameras were removed from the phones and traffic was routed through Panama and Hong Kong servers, keeping all communications out of the reach of the police.
Ramos — who had been working for ten years before he was caught — established his firm here by sending a middle man who claimed “he was in IT and software and wished to get a foothold in the Irish market” as “it would be beneficial to have an Irish company”.
NINE YEAR SENTENCE
The Vancouver criminal is now serving a nine-year sentence in San Diego, US, “for leading a criminal enterprise that facilitated the transnational importation and distribution of narcotics through the sale of encrypted communication devices and services”.
US Attorney Robert Brewer welcomed the conviction, adding: “Vincent Ramos is going to prison because he provided violent, drug trafficking organisations with a high tech tool that enabled them to coordinate their crimes while staying in the shadows.
“I want to thank all of our law enforcement partners around the world for their hard work.”
Ramos, whose devices were also used by the Hells Angels biker gang in Australia to arrange killings, apologised after being found guilty.
TURNED A BLIND EYE
He claimed to have turned “a blind eye” to what his phones were used for, telling the court: “I am sorry and accept responsibility for my actions that have led me here.”
The Irish investigation into Ramos was launched by Sgt Gary Sheridan and other CAB investigators under the command of Chief Bureau Officer Det Chief Supt Pat Clavin.
As part of their probe, Sgt Sheridan travelled to meet Ramos at a high security prison in San Diego, where he agreed to his cash being handed over to the State.
And in an exclusive interview with the Irish Sun on Sunday, Det Chief Supt Pat Clavin vowed to continue the fight against organised crime gangs operating in Ireland.
MORE THAN €8.37 MILLION FROZEN BY HIGH COURT IN 2018
He spoke to us after it emerged last month 114 criminal assets worth €8.37million were frozen by the High Court in 2018.
CAB’s annual report also outlined how the number of new cases brought before the High Court was 30 — with €5.6million being returned to the Exchequer. So far this year, CAB, who work closely with the UK’s National Crime Agency and the FBI brought 15 new cases before the High Court and froze €5.8million in assets.
Det Chief Supt Clavin: “We are involved in investigations at a local, national and international level. No criminal is untouchable.
“Drugs remains the single biggest area of criminality for us. It’s very often the case that these people are more concerned about losing their assets than they are about going to prison.
“Arising from the increase in gangland activity in recent times, we have been looking at other examples where criminals have been looking at the motor trade to launder the proceeds of crime.
“Criminals are also looking at cars as an alternative to currency and this often includes swapping cars instead of cash.
“We would see CAB as a cutting edge national bureau that works closely with the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, other colleagues in all Garda divisions and our international partners to ensure the assets of criminals are being targeted. No matter where they are they will be targeted.”
CAB has also vowed to target rural crime gangs who are terrorising Ireland’s isolated areas, street dealers and white-collar criminals.
At present, the burglary mobs are using the proceeds of their crimes on innocent farmers to splash the cash on houses, cars, jewellery and holidays. But the main players in the rural raids have been hit hard after CAB investigators seized cash, vehicles and jewellery in a series of raids last year.
Re: First picture of El Chapo’s tech fixer Vincent Ramos who used Ireland as base to hide cash
So you think he may have flipped. I believe his family still lives in Richmond BC. I would think his family would go in witness protection. CDS and CJNG are strong in Vancouver going against chapo would be a suicide mission. Every gang would love to do CDS a favor. I would say he isnt talking but what do I know.