Ciro for Borderland Beat from Vancouver Sun
U.S. seeks to seize assets of criminal who aided international traffickers–Read Borderland Beat’s previous coverage by using this link and this link
Richmond resident Vincent Ramos’s underworld nicknames were “CEO” and “Business.” He was so successful in providing encrypted BlackBerries and other electronic devices to organized criminals that he raked in $80 million during his decade running Phantom Secure.
Now the U.S. wants to seize tens of millions of dollars worth of his assets.
The U.S. Attorney in San Diego has filed a claim against Ramos’ bank accounts, investments and real estate holdings around the world.
Ramos is set to be sentenced in California next month after pleading guilty last fall to a racketeering charge for assisting international drug traffickers. At the time, he agreed to a forfeiture of his abundant assets.
On Tuesday, court documents were filed listing specific items that will be part of a forfeiture order, including gold and silver coins, crypto currency, a Las Vegas condo and two Richmond properties.
The U.S. also wants “money, funds and credits” from 30 different bank accounts linked to Ramos. Some are in his own name and some in the name of his Phantom Secure Encryption company or other companies he set up.
There are local accounts in Coast Capital Savings, the Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank and TD. There are six U.S. accounts in the Bank of America, plus another in JP Morgan Chase. There are another four accounts in banks in Hong Kong, two in China, two in Ireland, one in Singapore and one in the United Arab Emirates.
For some of the accounts, the U.S. Attorney lists a specific dollar amount. For others, the court documents simply state that the U.S. wants all the assets within the account.
The U.S. also wants to keep the contents of Ramos’s Beverly Hills’ vault including $101,080 in U.S. currency, 19 gold Eagle coins and seven gold Buffalo coins.
And the U.S. Attorney wants items in a safety deposit box at JPMorgan Chase in Los Angeles, including another $86,450 U.S., 100 silver bricks, four Canadian $50 dollar coins and four Mexican 50 Peso coins.
A large amount of crypto currency in Ramos accounts at nine different companies is also listed in the forfeiture application.
Also included is a one-bedroom condo in a Las Vegas tower, $751,400 in proceeds from the sale of a Richmond house, and an attached lot sold last April for a total of $1,550,000.
Though a total value is not listed for the assets identified in the forfeiture application, the court document says the proceeds “shall be credited against the total forfeiture amount of $80,000,000.”
As part of his October plea deal, Ramos admitted that he and his associates helped distribute cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine to locations in Canada, the U.S., Australia, Mexico, Thailand and Europe.
Ramos, who lived with his family in Richmond until his arrest in March 2018, maintained Phantom Secure servers in Panama and Hong Kong — hidden behind virtual proxy servers — and even remotely wiped data from devices seized by law enforcement.
Ramos and his co-conspirators would only sell devices to customers who had a personal reference from an existing client. And Ramos used digital currencies, including bitcoin, to facilitate financial transactions for Phantom Secure to protect users’ anonymity and launder proceeds from Phantom Secure.
The 42-year-old Canadian admitted that at least 450 kilograms of cocaine were distributed by people using Phantom Secure devices.
Ramos’s co-defendants — Kim Augustus Rodd, Younes Nasri, Michael Gamboa and Christopher Poquiz — remain international fugitives.
He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail, but the plea agreement states that U.S. authorities won’t oppose his transfer to a Canadian prison after he’s served at least five years south of the border.
Ramos founded Phantom Secure Communications in Vancouver in 2008. The company then branched out to the U.S., Australia, Dubai, Panama, Hong Kong and Thailand.
Criminal Complaint Chivis Martinez Scribd
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