Yet another reason to end the failed War on Drugs: by far most U.S. wiretaps are for that one reason. Sure, a wiretap helped catch a Mexican drug lord. But without the War on Drugs, there would be no drug lords, just like alcohol bootleggers vanished after Prohibition ended.
Brian Anderson wrote for Motherboard 15 July 2014, Almost 90 Percent of All US Wiretaps Listen for Suspected Drug Deals,
Earlier this year, a joint US-Mexico wiretap investigation netted the world’s top drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, after American agents in Arizona intercepted a mobile phone owned by the son of one of Chapo’s closest confidantes. It was a huge catch—Chapo, the elusive head of the globe-spanning Sinaloa cartel, had been on the run for 13 years.
But that was merely one eavesdrop in the bucket of narcotics-based wiretaps carried out in the US in 2013, during which the bulk of the surveillance that ultimately led to Chapo’s arrest actually went down. According to a new Administrative Office of US Courts report, wiretaps not only hit an all-time high in 2013, the most recent year for which we have data on law enforcement wiretaps. The overwhelming majority, nearly 90 percent, listened for suspected narcotics dealings.
And that’s just FBI and DEA and the like, without even getting into FISA-court CIA-and NSA-style spying.
Propping up drug gangs and private prisons through drug prohibition isn’t worth throwing away the First Amendment. It’s way past time to end the failed War on Drugs.