During the course of his Trial in New York, it was revealed that the person most likely in assisting authorities capture ‘El Chapo’ Joaquin Guzman was his Sysadmin, Cristian Rodriguez.
With his assistance, the FBI admitted that they were able to access phone calls made by El Chapo as well as his associates via the encryption system that they had setup to communicate and that they had gained that access through his system engineer who had been responsible for setting it up.
Prosecutors played various recordings in court including drug deals discussed by Joaquin Guzman who also warned his bodyguard not to kill police officers as well as a conversation that he had with a corrupt senior Police officer who he was paying.
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman used to listen to conversations of his close associates, including his wife and mistress and cartel associates through spyware named FlexiSPY that had been installed on their phones by his sysadmin.
Cristian Rodriguez was a 32-year-old Colombian who had setup his own cyber security company, ending up working within drug cartels to make their communications secure.
Approximately 1 year prior, an FBI agent had met with Cristian Rodriguez posing as a Russian who needed a call system that could not be intercepted by the authorities.
Cristian Rodriguez had finished completing a similar system for El Chapo and had been recommended to him in 2008 by a Colombian Drug lord named Jorge Cifuentes. Rodriguez setup the system for El Chapo using a closed and encrypted VOIP network after travelling to Guzman in Sinaloa, Mexico. Guzman logged into the network via his home wi-fi and was then able to make encrypted calls that authorities were not able to intercept.
Once the FBI ‘flipped’ Rodriguez to provide evidence on El Chapo, they managed to move the secure server from Canada to the Netherlands, under the justification of it being part of an upgrade, and that allowed the FBI to obtain the new encryption keys for the network.
Once the encryption keys were available, all calls and contents could be intercepted and recorded.
The information was provided during the Trial by Steven Marston an FBI special agent who stated that the FBI had managed to intercept over 1,500 calls between April 2011 and January 2012 after assistance from Rodriguez.
When the secure network was down due to issues, unencrypted calls were intercepted by authorities, including calls criticising Rodriguez for the failure. The sysadmin tells Jorge Cifuentes to purchase another computer and he would configure it for him. However, the drug boss complains about needing to do that and having to enter the long password required to access a different computer.
“Hadn’t we agreed that you were going to buy a mini computer and you were going to call us to configure it?”
“I’m so busy. I didn’t even have time to breathe… I have a computer but, you know that I haven’t been able to open it? A Vaio… Do you remember the small Vaio?”
“Good, but that has a very long password.”
“The long one, that password that you place…is this the password?
“What a drag! It has symbols and things.”
Jorge Rodriguez had apparently suffered a nervous breakdown in 2013 due to the stress of working for El Chapo, and left the cartel, initially on good grounds but then suspicion of him grew and enforcers from both of his previous bosses went looking for him.
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