Florida Wiretap Authorizations Jump 83 Percent in 2010

They're listening. Really hard.

Wiretaps in Florida authorized by district courts and the state attorney general rose from 78 in 2009 to 143 in 2010, according to a report released Thursday by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. Florida's 83.3-percent jump is the second-largest in the country.

There are still a lot of questions to be answered, but a look at the data reveals that of the 143 approved authorizations in Florida last year, all but 16 were installed, resulting in 14,489 intercepted communications and 200 arrests.

Nationally, authorizations rose by more than a third; the largest jump was in Maryland, where authorizations astonishingly quadrupled from 21 to 84.

California led the country in raw numbers with 657 authorizations, followed by New York and New Jersey. Florida was fourth, finally pulling past those wanna-be eavesdroppers from Colorado.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Florida's 34 authorizations for wiretaps in racketeering investigations led the nation and accounted for nearly 24 percent of the state's approvals. Elsewhere in the country, racketeering investigations made up less than 3 percent of authorizations.

In addition, the average Florida wiretap cost $21,267, well below the national average of $50,085, though reported wiretap prices ranged from a $68 job in New Jersey to one that cost almost $1.7 million in a Massachusetts murder investigation.

More to come.

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Rich Abdill
Contact: Rich Abdill