WASHINGTON (AP) — Law enforcement has gone mobile in its pursuit of wiretaps, as more Americans rely on their cell phones to communicate even in possibly criminal cases.
A report issued Monday shows that 94 percent of all wiretap applications in 2008 were for a portable device carried by an individual, such as a pager or cell phone.
The annual Wiretap Report by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts shows that traditional fixed locations like homes, businesses and pay phones now account for just a small fraction of the wiretaps requested.
There were a total of 1,891 applications made to federal and state judges to authorize the interception of wire, oral or electronic communications in 2008. That’s a drop of 14 percent over the previous year, the first decline in five years.
The wiretaps are most commonly used in drug cases — 84 percent of the applications said a drug offense was the most serious offense being investigated. Other causes included homicide or assault, racketeering or gambling.
Wiretaps that ended in 2008 resulted in 4,133 arrests and 810 convictions so far.
The report doesn’t include terrorism wiretaps or those that involve a consenting party involved in the conversation.
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