All of Colombia's internet traffic is monitored by the US Drug Enforcement Administration, according to a hacked email circulated on Twitter on Monday night, signaling widespread American surveillance of electronic communications in the country considered the longtime central battlefield in the global war on drugs.
The email, sent by Eduardo Pardo, a field engineer for the private surveillance firm Hacking Team in Colombia, mentions technology recently purchased by the DEA that "will receive all the traffic for Colombian's ISPs [Internet service providers]."
Hacking Team is a cyber-security company based in Milan, Italy, that sells surveillance technologies to governments, including several identified as repressive against journalists and dissidents or as violators of human rights. The firm on Sunday suffered a massive hack, with 400 gigabytes of data related to its operations dumped online.
Very interesting Hacking Team email on US DEA using spy tech— Ryan Gallagher (@rj_gallagher) July 6, 2015
The hacked email — dated June 9, 2015, with the subject line "Brief DEA meeting in Colombia" — mentions the Hacking Team product Remote Control System, or Galileo, which allows clients to access smartphones and turn on a device's microphone and recorder remotely. The email suggests the DEA already has Galileo in use at the US embassy in Bogota.
Hacking Team has reportedly told all its clients, including top US law-enforcement agencies, to stop using its products in response to Sunday's hack. "They're in full on emergency mode," a source on the company told Motherboard.
"We do not disclose the names or locations of our clients," Eric Rabe, a spokesman for Hacking Team, said in a previously released statement. "We cannot comment on the validity of documents purportedly from our company."
Barbara L. Carreno, a DEA spokeswoman, said in response to a VICE News request: "We aren't commenting on the leaked emails."