Spy case may have started with investigation into tech used by organized crime
Published Tuesday, September 17, 2019 6:05PM PDT
The spy case shaking up the highest levels of the federal government may have started with another investigation into technology used by organized crime to evade law enforcement.
In 2018, the FBI called on the RCMP for help with an investigation and the Mounties answered the call, never expecting to find a link to a trusted Canadian with a high security clearance.
"During that investigation we came across documents that led us to believe we had evidence of internal corruption,” said RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki.
RCMP called in the Sensitive and Internal Investigations Unit, which put together a case against Cameron Ortis, director of the National Intelligence Coordination Centre.
He’s facing seven charges for alleged crimes dating back to January 2015, including accessing classified information and possessing a device used for secret communications.
As Ortis awaits his day in court, the investigation continues.
"I think they're doing their damage assessment now,” said former Canadian Security Intelligence Service Director Ward Elcock. “Everybody is looking to see how much they've actually lost because you have to measure a period of time over which it happened and how much stuff flowed through."
The FBI has publically thanked the RCMP for help with a 2018 investigation into Phantom Secure, a Richmond-based company whose CEO, Vincent Ramos, was sentenced to nine years in a U.S. prison for selling encryption technology to drug cartels so they could hide their activities from law enforcement.
The RCMP commissioner would not confirm if that is the investigation linked to Ortis.
"I can't comment. We aren't the lead in that investigation so I'm not able to comment,” said Lucki.
In his role with the RCMP, Ortis had access to the force’s most sensitive information, including intelligence shared with Canada by close allies.
The RCMP says it is working with those countries during the investigation.