James Ewinger reports:
A little-known federal law that allows investigators to carry out a search warrant without the suspect’s knowledge contributed to the smashing of a major heroin ring in the area last week.
The delayed-notice search warrant is designed to keep suspects from knowing they are under surveillance. In this case, investigators used the warrant to go through a suspected drug dealer’s apartment in Cleveland last April. They took more than a pound of heroin and two guns, then trashed the place to make it look like a burglary.
While the case is interesting in and of itself, or greater interest, perhaps, are some statistics that Ewinger includes about the use of sneak-and-peek warrants, as they’re often called:
The special warrants, like the one used in April, are most commonly utilized in drug cases, and only rarely against suspected terrorists.
Their use has soared, from 87 granted nationwide by federal judges in 2006 to 1,145 last year.
Federal judges nationwide have rejected requests for the special warrants only eight times between 2006 and 2009.
Read more on Plain Dealer, keeping in mind that use of these warrants ballooned after the USA PATRIOT Act, but not necessarily for terrorism-related cases.