The war on drugs has claimed new victims after Hennepin County officials arrested and charged 20 individuals with conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime. It is undeniable that local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are cracking down harder than ever on drug possession, manufacturing and distribution, leading to numerous methamphetamine drug charges being filed each year. Because these agencies are pushing so hard to arrest and convict anyone suspected of drug charges, it is easy for law enforcement to go too far and violate suspects’ rights.
This most recent roundup happened after an informant first started talking to St. Paul police, but it is unclear how the informant had any information on the supposed drug ring. Eventually, police applied for a wiretap in which they could listen to the suspected meth distributors’ conversations with producers in Mexico and California.
This case raises some questions about whether federal and local officials had the authority to perform such an invasive search. Everyone in Minnesota and across the United States has rights protected by the Fourth Amendment, including the protection from unreasonable search and seizure. What this means is that law enforcement officers can’t just tap a suspect’s phone unless they has sufficient credible evidence; if police don’t, the evidence can’t be used in a criminal conviction.
The Duluth New Tribune doesn’t clarify what information was used in the application for the search warrant for the wiretap. But, this story illustrates that anyone accused of a drug crime in Minneapolis or St. Paul needs to work with a criminal defense attorney to ensure that his or her Fourth Amendment rights are not violated.
Source: Duluth News Tribune, “20 people charged in Twin Cities-based meth ring,” Amy Forliti, March 10, 2012