FBI: Phoenix man allegedly tried to sell secrets to Mexican drug cartel

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(Source: Mikko Lemola via 123RF) (Source: Mikko Lemola via 123RF)

A Phoenix man is facing federal charges after allegedly trying to sell satellite tracking information to somebody he believed to represent a Mexican drug cartel.

Undercover FBI agents arrested Robert Jeremy Miller on Friday.

Their investigation began when a tipster contacted the company from which Miller was fired in late February. That company, which was not named in court paperwork, is based in New Jersey but has offices throughout the country including here in Arizona.

According to the statement filed by Special Agent Steven Garbett, Miller worked with the company's proprietary satellite tracking system, which is "designed to track the location and movements of aircraft and marine craft."

The company has contracts with government and military entities.

While the company deactivated Miller's access when he was terminated, Miller apparently kept a login that let him into the system without the company's knowledge.

A man calling himself "John Patriot" tipped off the company on July 23, saying he found out Miller planned to sell logins to the satellite tracking system on the black market. That man was later identified as Brandon Harris.

"According to Harris, the man told Harris that he had worked at the Victim Company and was 'pissed that he didn't get a raise and wanted to screw over the company,'" according to court paperwork.

According to the FBI, Harris eventually identified Miller and showed "screen shots via text message of what Harris claimed to be the STS [satellite tracking system] to show that he had unauthorized access to the computer network."

Agents worked with Harris to contact Miller. Posing as potential buyers, undercover agents met with Miller to get a demonstration of what Miller allegedly had to offer.

"During the meeting, Miller stated that he had created a separate login ID and password to the STS while he was employed at the Victim Company," Garbett wrote in the probable cause information. "Miller stated that he had created the separate login account to maintain access to the STS in the event that he was fired.  In front of the agents, Miller used the account to log into the STS. While logged into the STS, Miller accessed location data and demonstrated to the agents how to locate different aircraft and other vehicles."

The agents arrested Miller without incident.

According to Garbett, Miller said he had a very specific goal in mind when he took the meeting that got him arrested.

"Miller claimed that his intention in meeting with the individuals whom he thought represented the Mexican cartel was to gather and share information with law enforcement," according to court paperwork. "Miller stated that he had researched how to become a DEA informant and was planned to talk to a DEA agent friend of Miller's brother."

Miller is now facing a charge of "computer fraud, namely the unauthorized access of a protected computer to defraud and obtain something of value …."