The suspect is accused of having provided part of the distribution of thousands of phones equipped with Sky ECC, a network used almost exclusively by criminal organizations.
One of the main distributors of the Sky ECC encrypted telephone network, at the heart of extraordinary anti-crime investigations around the world, was indicted and jailed in Paris on Friday, a source familiar with the matter reported Monday. AFP. The information was also confirmed by a judicial source.
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Arrested in Spain in early June, the Canadian Thomas Herdman and his wife, who dispute the charges, were indicted for “criminal association, supply and import of means of cryptology in disregard of regulations and laundering of drug trafficking“, Specified the judicial source. “A motion for nullity will be filed in the coming days for provocation to the offense and disloyalty of the evidence», Reacted to AFP their lawyers Mes Philippe Ohayon and Paul Sin-Chan. “Mr. Herdman has always been available to all justice and he has nothing to hide», They added.
The woman was remanded in custody and Thomas Herdman incarcerated pending a debate Wednesday on this measure before a judge of freedoms and detention. This Canadian is accused of having provided part of the distribution of thousands of phones equipped with Sky ECC, an encrypted software developed by the Canadian company Sky Global. Access to this network, used almost exclusively by criminal organizations according to the authorities, was open on subscription, costing “up to more than 2,000 euros per line for six months“, According to the Paris prosecutor. Criminal organizations had chosen him following the dismantling of a comparable network, Encrochat.
3 million daily messages
Sky ECC had been infiltrated at the end of February 2021 by French, Belgian and Dutch police. The joint investigation team was then able to observe in real time 70,000 users, linked to drug trafficking or even preparations for assassinations.
According to the European bodies Europol / Eurojust, 3 million daily messages were exchanged on Sky ECC between 170,000 people, including “more than 20% in the Netherlands and Belgium“. The infiltration was however interrupted on March 9 when the Belgian authorities, against the advice of their counterparts, had carried out a vast police operation leading to the arrest of 48 people. And 27 tonnes of cocaine, a record, were seized in the port of Antwerp between February and April.
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On March 13, the boss of Sky Global, the Canadian Jean-François Eap, and Thomas Herdman were indicted in the United States on arrest warrants, for complicity in drug trafficking and fraud. They dispute the charges. At the same time, Thomas Herdman went to Europe to ensure his defense. He was finally arrested in Madrid in early June under a French arrest warrant, then handed over to French justice.
The investigation targeting Sky ECC, opened in Lille in August 2019, has been entrusted since December 2020 to Parisian magistrates specializing in organized crime. At least five people, resellers in France of phones, were indicted at the end of March. In parallel with the investigations on the network, the intercepted communications fueled or triggered several investigations. The assassination of a mechanic in 2020 in Besançon, during clashes between rival traffickers, was thus elucidated in mid-May.