On Saturday, Sep. 2, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent Michael Ronayne was featured in a documentary that aired on CNN.
“Declassified: Untold Stories of American Spies” is a CNN Original Series hosted by former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers. Each week, the series highlights true stories of America’s covert operations with first-person accounts told by the agents who lived it.
This week’s episode: “The inside story of catching a cyberpirate,” highlighted an HSI-led counter-proliferation case. In 2009, HSI Philadelphia learned of an online company named CRACK99 involved in the illegal sale of U.S. manufactured software products used in a variety of applications including aerospace design, space exploration, and warfare simulation.
The prices for the software on CRACK99 ranged from $20 to $1,200. In many instances, the actual retail value of these programs exceeded $100,000. Once payment for these products was received, the software was posted on U.S. servers so customers could download the product, which were often compressed and then “cracked” to overcome license restrictions. CRACK99 sold stolen software to customers in over sixty different countries worldwide. In the end, CRACK99 was responsible for over $100 million dollars in lost revenue to U.S. businesses.
After a complex investigation, including undercover purchases, the operators of CRACK99 were identified and Xiang Li was indicted on over 46 criminal infractions, arrested, and sentenced to 144 months in prison.
HSI’s Counter-Proliferation Investigations (CPI) program prevents sensitive U.S. technologies and weapons from reaching terrorists, criminal organizations and foreign adversaries. The CPI program combats the trafficking and illegal export of the following commodities and services:
- Weapons of mass destruction and associated delivery systems;
- Conventional military weaponry, equipment and technology;
- Controlled dual-use commodities and technology;
- Firearms and ammunition; and
- Financial and business transactions with sanctioned / embargoed countries and terrorist organizations.