The Administrative Office of the U.S Courts reported today that 2,376 federal and state applications for orders authorizing the interception of wire, oral or electronic communications – what you and I would call wiretaps – were filed in 2009.
Federal authorities sought 663 orders, states sought 1,713 – and none were denied.
Breaking it down further, wiretap applications in California, New York and New Jersey accounted for 71 percent of all applications approved by state judges; 24 states had wiretap requests in 2009, up from 22 in 2008, but requests were also made in the District Columbia and Virgin Islands.
The state wiretap with the most intercepts was conducted in New York County, New York, where a 543-day wiretap in a corruption investigation resulted in the interception of 11,000 incriminating messages. The average length of an original authorization was 29 days.
The most frequently noted location in wiretap locations was “portable device,” a category that includes cellular telephones and digital pagers, and 86 percent of all applications for intercepts cited illegal drugs as the most serious offense under investigation.
As of Dec. 31, a total of 4,537 persons had been arrested and 678 persons had been convicted as a result of interceptions reported as terminated.