As the minutes ticked by, Van De Moere could hardly believe what he was doing. He didn’t think of himself as a criminal. A year ago, Van De Moere—short, ponytailed, perpetually cheery—had been an ordinary information technology consultant in his native Belgium, earning a comfortable salary setting up digital voice networks for corporations. Now he was working with a Dutch drug-trafficking gang, deep into an audacious hacking scheme that authorities say smuggled tons of cocaine and heroin through the port and into cities across the continent. If the antenna worked and he got the codes, he had a chance to get his normal life back. If he screwed up, he could end up in prison or in a coffin.
Organized crime has an information technology group, and what they accomplished was nothing short of spectacular: The Mob’s IT department