BOGOTA, Colombia — In the capital of a country notorious for drug trafficking, here was a familiar scene. Colombian police, acting on a tip from an informant, stopped a Chevy minivan leaving Bogota’s El Dorado Airport. They found what they were seeking in the back of the vehicle: dozens of boxes packed with precious contraband.
But this seizure in the early hours of Sept. 26, 2012, did not involve cocaine or other illegal narcotics. The boxes held more than 400 Samsung, LG and BlackBerry smartphones, complete with instruction manuals and power chargers. When police turned on the phones, the screens displayed the names and logos of two American wireless companies, AT&T and Verizon.
Though a search of their serial numbers in an American police database did not link any of the devices to reported robberies, Luis Guate, an investigator with the Colombian National Police, said the phones had clearly been stolen in the United States: Wiretapped conversations between Colombian traffickers revealed that the phones had been acquired from a bulk dealer of stolen electronics in Miami, and then flown to Bogota.
his article is part of a Huffington Post series exploring the global underground trade in stolen smartphones. Click here to read the full article.