British Agent Loses Drug Intelligence in Handbag

For most females, a handbag is a veritable extension of the body, but that doesn’t mean they never get lost or accidentally left behind – probably something an undercover British female agent should have considered before traipsing across South America with a USB stick chock-full of intelligence in her purse.

The Sunday Times reported this weekend that the MI6-trained female agent inadvertently left her handbag on a coach bus at the El Dorado airport in Bogota, Colombia. She was a drugs liaison officer working to further the efforts against drug trafficking, but her mistake has purportedly cost British taxpayers millions, put many lives at risk and undone much of the progress that was being made in the war on major drug traffickers.

Woman on busIt’s said that the USB stick contained a comprehensive list of undercover agents plus details of 5+ years of intelligence work. Once operation heads were notified of the security breach, they were forced to stop ops and relocate involved agents and informants, should the lost information have ended up in the hands of the opposition.

“What about encryption?” we’re sure you’re asking yourselves. Surely the device was locked in such a way as to prevent your average drug lord from accessing the data. Reports of the leak do not mention encryption – just that the loss of the item severely undermined the war against drug traffickers.

Originally kept on the quiet by the agent’s employer, the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA), the error is just another in what is becoming a laundry list of similar security incidents. Indeed, people are starting to refer to ‘British Intelligence’ as an oxymoron, much to the embarrassment of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who is ultimately responsible for the UK’s anti-drugs operations and the security of criminal intelligence.

SOCA confirmed the report, but  the public is getting wind of it 3 years after the fact. Good news, of course, otherwise every drug lord in Colombia would be scrambling for stray USB sticks.

photo courtesy of www.vagabondish.com


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