The number of phones secretly wiretapped by Colorado law enforcement hit a 10-year high last year, leading to large drug busts statewide while raising concerns about the privacy of innocent people, reports the Rocky Mountain News. The increase was led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which used 108 wiretaps in its first year under U.S. Attorney for Colorado Troy Eid. That’s four times the number used in the 12 months prior to Eid’s August 2006 arrival. State prosecutors got permission to use 43 wiretaps in 2006 – more than in the previous nine years combined, says an annual report by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
“The wiretap does not lie,” said Eid, adding that using wiretaps is safer than sending an undercover agent or informant to buy drugs. Wiretaps also may be the only way to reach the highest-level dealers – people who wouldn’t talk to or sell drugs to strangers, said Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger, whose office, with the help of wiretaps, charged 31 people with selling meth last year. “You do have people with no connection whatsoever with crime whose conversations are scrutinized,” said Cathryn Hazouri of the American Civil Liberties Union. “That is a serious invasion of their privacy.” Last year, no state or federal judge denied a request for a wiretap, the report from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts showed. Of the more than 15,000 applications filed in the past decade, only five were denied.