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DEA More Than Triples Use of Wiretaps, Other Surveillance Over Past Decade

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA’s use of wiretaps and other electronic surveillance more than tripled in the past decade, often bypassing courts and federal prosecutors, according to newly obtained records, the USA Today reports.

The DEA used electronic surveillance 11,681 times in the last fiscal year, compared to just 3,394 a decade ago.

The increase comes as the DEA has begun taking more of its cases to local prosecutors and judges, as opposed to federal ones, because they are finding an easier time getting approval.

State and federal laws are vastly different when it comes to wiretaps. On the federal level, a senior Justice Department official must approve. But state courts don’t have the same rules.

“That law exists to make sure that wiretap authority is not abused, that it’s only used when totally appropriate,” said Hanni Fakhoury, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “That’s a burden. And if there’s a way to get around that burden, the agents are going to try to get around it.”

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