By Josh Kruger (Philadelphia Weekly) – As required by federal law, the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AO) recently disseminated a report detailing the nature and scope of all wiretaps, known as intercepts, in the United States last year.
Based upon the report, it appears that the overwhelming majority of wiretaps were related to drug offenses using portable devices, including cell phones, smartphones, and pagers; and, only a very small number of these recordings contained incriminating evidence.
Increasing last year by five percent, 3,576 state and federal wiretaps recorded the communications of Americans. Most of these, 2,100, were authorized by state judges for local and state investigations. Only one state wiretap in 2013 was denied.
Here in Philadelphia, it appears that all 21 intercept requests by law enforcement received judicial approval: 4 federal and 17 state. Of these, every single one was related to drug offenses and involved the use of “portable devices.” Statewide, the Pennsylvania State Attorney General requested an additional 26 wiretaps, too; only one of those was for a corruption investigation, the rest were for narcotics investigations.