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as part of an ongoing series investigating the global stolen cellphone trade, reports that Colombian drug cartels have moved into illegal smartphone trafficking as a lucrative source of money. Smuggling operations currently span the Americas — and even extend as far away as Spain and Singapore — driven by high import prices for such handsets as iPhones, Samsung Galaxies, and Blackberries. Cartels have moved into the space mainly because it’s a far safer endeavor than the drug trade. Law enforcement is more likely to operate around narcotics, but many countries don’t have structures in place to stem the flow of illegal phones. As a result, the market has boomed to being worth around $30 million a year. However, the effect on everyday life in Colombia has been severe. Stealing phones often results in violence, to the point that one Colombian newspaper commented that holding a phone in public had become a “death trap.”

Posted via a mobile Android device.


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