British Drug Dealers Reportedly Using '90s Cell Phones to Avoid Feds

By McCarton Ackerman 02/02/15

Dealers are using 20th century technology to get around 21st century problems.

nokia 8210.jpg
Wiki Commons

A first-hand account from an anonymous British drug dealer has revealed that those involved in the U.K. drug trade are going old school with their technology in an attempt to keep the feds away.

The source, who goes by the name of K2, claims that drug dealers in the city of Birmingham are using Nokia 8210 phones. The phones were released in 1999 and lack Bluetooth capabilities, wi-fi, and near-field connectivity.

The logic is that iPhones and similar modern phones are more hackable and can reveal more information to feds about where the user is. It is also a possibility the UK’s National Crime Agency have been hacking into the iPhones of drug dealers to find information. However, the old school Nokia phones aren’t immune to common police methods like tapping calls and cell geolocation.

Even prisoners have been using outdated phones to conduct drug-related business. The Bureau of Prisons launched new phone policies in 1999 that allowed each prisoner only 300 minutes per month, but it hasn’t stopped transactions from happening.

In August 2012, two Indianapolis inmates were busted for running a state-wide drug operation from inside their cells, using cell phones. It took 300 FBI agents across the entire state to uncover the network of 40 conspirators led by inmates Oscar Perez and Justin Addler. Perhaps even more amazingly, Perez and Addler were housed in different prisons.

But prior to 1999, inmates had unrestricted and unlimited phone access. Those who were high up in the prison food chain could block off phones for hours at a time to conduct drug transactions.

"I would make 60 calls in a day, sometimes using two lines at once," said one prisoner exclusively to The Fix. "It was something for me to do. It was just about everybody inside the jail in some way, shape, form or fashion dealing drugs, directly or indirectly."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.