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Mexican Businessman Pleads Guilty in U.S. to Brokering Hacking Tools

A Mexican businessman has admitted in a United States federal court to conspiring to sell and use interception devices and hacking services from companies in Italy, Israel, and elsewhere.

The man, Carlos Guerrero, of Chula Vista, California, and Tijuana, Mexico, owned and operated multiple companies in the U.S. and Mexico.

Documents presented in court allege that Guerrero brokered the same surveillance tools to Mexican government clients and commercial and private customers.

Between 2014 and 2015, he brokered hacking devices and geolocation tools from an Italian company, and later tools and services from Israeli and other companies.

While the spyware vendors have not been named, they are likely Italy’s now-defunct Hacking Team and Israel’s NSO Group.

“In 2016 and 2017, for example, Guerrero marketed signal jammers, Wi-Fi interception tools, IMSI catchers, and the ability to hack WhatsApp messages to prospective clients in the U.S. and Mexico,” the U.S. Department of Justice says.

[READ: Polish Leader Admits Country Bought Powerful Israeli Spyware]

Guerrero also admitted he was aware of the fact that, in some cases, his Mexican government clients planned to use the equipment for political purposes, not legitimate law enforcement purposes.

He also arranged for a Mexican mayor to access without authorization the Twitter, Hotmail, and iCloud accounts of a political rival.

According to court documents, Guerrero used the brokered equipment himself, to intercept a U.S. rival’s phone calls, both in Southern California and Mexico. Additionally, his company helped a Mexican business intercept a Florida-based sales representative’s phone and email accounts, for a $25,000 fee.

Guerrero faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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