Verint Systems has been contracted since 2006 for the mass interception of Mexican telecommunications, Wired magazine recently revealed, as part of US and Mexican interventions in the drug trade. Verint is the Israeli-American firm implicated in the National Security Agency’s mass wiretapping of US citizens beginning in 2001.
In February 2013 Verint bought out its former parent company Comverse, a firm “directly influenced by [Unit] 8200 technology,” becoming independent from Comverse. Unit 8200 is Israel’s version of the National Security Agency and is part of the intelligence apparatus that surveils Palestinian phone and Internet traffic. Retired Israeli general Hanan Gefen, Unit 8200’s former commander, told Wired that “Comverse’s main product, the Logger, is based on the Unit’s technology.”
This Mexico Technical Surveillance System allows the Mexican government to “intercept, analyze and use intercepted information from all types of communications systems operating in Mexico.” Part of the 2007 contract “gave the Mexican government access to most internet users in the country.”
Not only can the emails and phone calls of suspected narcotraficantes be monitored, so too can those of dissidents, resistance movements (over which Mexican security officials are coordinating with Israeli military and security officials) and marginalized populations. The system is funded by the US government and is part of “hundreds of millions of dollars” poured into the war on drugs in Mexico.
Wired notes that the Mexico Technical Surveillance System is “a key part of the means [by] which Mexico and the US fight the cartels.” This is, however, a mischaracterization. As investigative journalist Anabel Hernández amply demonstrates in her newly translated book Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers (Verso, 2013), the Mexican state’s involvement in combating drug trafficking for the last several years has been an intervention on the side of one cartel over another — the Sinaloa Cartel in their attempts to take over the territories and market shares controlled by Gulf, Los Zetas and other cartels.
Verint’s technology – developed on the backs of Palestinian and Lebanese populations under Israeli occupation – is deployed not to fight drugs cartels but, according to Hernández’s extraordinary thesis, to help one cartel win.
Author James Bamford also revealed details about the role of Verint, and another Israeli firm, Narus, in the “superintrusive” sifting of Internet traffic at key American gateways, in his 2008 book The Shadow Factory.