Bulk cellphone purchases not believed for “violent criminal activity”

MACON, Mo. (AP) — A north-central Missouri sheriff’s office says prepaid, disposable cellphones that were purchased in bulk aren’t thought to be connected to “violent criminal activity.” The Macon County Sheriff’s Office says it is believed that a cellphone trafficking ring bought the phones.

Large quantities of cell phones were recently sold at Walmart stores in Jackson, Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Macon, Jefferson City, and Lebanon.

Those purchases set off some alarms because investigators say they are potential tools in the hands of terrorists. The devices can be used to communicate and they are difficult to trace if they are prepaid phones. They can also be used as detonators for bombs.

The Macon County Sheriff’s Office says in a Facebook post that it is believed that a cell phone trafficking ring bought the phones. The post says this type of trafficking business usually results in civil action between the trafficker and the cell phone carrier.

The sheriff’s office also says in these situations, cell phones are typically purchased in a region for a low price and shipped to another region to be sold for a larger profit. The post says it is “not believed there is any direct connection to violent criminal activity.”