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US Indicts Head of Alleged Crime Chat Comms Service

The CEO of a Canada-based company that provides encrypted communications and a former associate have been indicted in the US on charges of facilitating international drug trafficking, the Justice Department said.

The indictments were presented Friday against Jean-Francois Eap, the head of Sky Global, and Thomas Herdman, a former high-level distributor of Sky Global devices, the department said Friday.

Warrants have been issued for the arrest of the two men.

"The indictment alleges that Sky Global generated hundreds of millions of dollars providing a service that allowed criminal networks around the world to hide their international drug trafficking activity from law enforcement," said Acting US Attorney Randy Grossman.

"Sky Global’s devices are specifically designed to prevent law enforcement from actively monitoring the communications between members of transnational criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking and money laundering," the indictment alleges.

It said there are at least 70,000 Sky Global devices in use around the world.

The indictment comes after police in Europe said Wednesday they had arrested at least 80 people and carried out hundreds of raids in two countries after shutting down the Sky ECC encrypted phone network -- Sky Global's actual product -- used by organized crime groups.

Belgian, Dutch and French police said they hacked into the Sky ECC network, allowing them to look "over the shoulders" of suspects as they communicated with customized devices to plot drug deals and murders.

In France, law officials identified some 2,000 users of Sky ECC "allowing for procedures to be opened relating to large-scale drug operations and attacks on people," the Paris prosecutor said.

"The network we are dealing with seems to be almost exclusively used by large-scale criminals."

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