Drug dealers who rely on modern technology to conduct their day-to-day dope-slinging operations have every reason to suspect that they are under the watchful eye of law enforcement – that’s because they probably are. It has become a priority for agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and even your local police force, to not only tap into the digital world, but stay ahead of it, in an effort to clandestinely combat the War on Drugs. So, while the latest smartphone technology may offer a myriad of conveniences for the up-and-coming cannabis kingpins, these devices are nothing more than expensive cop magnets that allow the spooks in cyberspace to monitor every transmission.
Some believe this attitude sounds paranoid, but we have already seen evidence that suggests cell phone tracking is an important weapon for the law enforcement community. Last year, the FBI threw a temper tantrum over the announcement that some major tech firms were planning to include default encryptions on their cell phones. The agency’s director, James Comey, even had the balls to publicize his concerns in an article published by the Brookings Institution, stating that “law enforcement needs to be able to access communications and information to bring people to justice.”
Last year, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it was not a violation of the Fourth Amendment for police to monitor cell phones without a warrant. Due to phone location histories being a cell phone provider’s business record, the court said that citizens should not expect privacy. “[C]ell site information is clearly a business record. The cell service provider collects and stores historical cell site data for its own business purposes . . . the government merely comes in after the fact and asks a provider to turn over records the provider has already created,” according to the Fifth Circuit Court’s ruling.
Although the FBI claims it does not have an all seeing eye in regards to deploying peeping tom tactics on the average citizen, the recent spilling of the guts by Edward Snowden, which revealed the United States government was monitoring our cell phones, reading our emails, and even checking our social media accounts, is enough to disregard this claim.
A recent report from VICE UK indicates that drug dealers have been downgrading their technology in order to escape the potential wrath of law enforcement. This is an interesting concept, because while the cops are constantly upgrading their equipment in an attempt to keep up with the criminal world, these methods are incapable of tracking cellular dinosaurs. Therefore, it is in the best interest of black market drug dealers to trade in their Androids and iPhones for a Nokia 8210.
This pocket phone is “the best remedy for this problem… according to every source I’ve spoken to,” wrote Vice’s Steve Zacharanda, because it does not have Bluetooth or Wi-Fi capabilities. It also allows for the quick transfer of data between phones with the use of an infrared port, and it has a long battery life.
“Every dealer I know uses old phones, and the Nokia 8210 is the one everyone wants because of how small it is and how long the battery lasts. And it was the best phone when it came out. I couldn’t afford one in Jamaica back in the day, but now I’ve got four,” a dealer by the name of “K2” told Vice.
It appears short of eliminating all technology and operating only with a carrier pigeon, the Nokia 8210 is likely the best option for those dealers concerned about maintaining anonymity. These phones are selling for as much as $74 on eBay and nearly $130 on Amazon. Still, it is a small price to pay to stay under the radar and ultimately out of prison.