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Two years for drug ring

Man won't be allowed to work with wireless devices after he was convicted for handing out encrypted Blackberries.

May 22, 2010|By Joseph Serna

After he gets out of prison in two years, a Newport Beach man recently convicted for his part in an international drug-trafficking ring will serve five years' probation and be prohibited from getting any job with access to a wireless device, court records show.

Nathaniel Garrard Lineham, 41, was convicted in February of being the electronics man who distributed encrypted cell phones for a drug ring that stretched from Canada to Southern California, Chicago and Seattle. In 2008, authorities indicted 18 people as part of "Operation Candystore," a two-year federal investigation into a trading operation that sent cocaine to Canada in exchange for methamphetamines and Ecstasy.

According to the indictment, Lineham used his job at Data Locking, also known as beStealth, to distribute encrypted Blackberry cell phones that traffickers could use to send text messages.

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Funding for the drug operation came from as far away as Chicago, with meeting points set up in Seattle, among other places.

Authorities also arrested Newport Beach resident Alexandru Sabau, 39. He was caught in 2008 trying to trade 100,000 pills of Ecstasy for 25 kilos of cocaine, worth about $2 million, with an undercover federal officer.

Lineham pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison. He is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2012. He'll be under formal supervision for five years afterward and not allowed to get a job involving wireless devices.

Sabau pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be released in July 2013.

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