ABKLaw BLOG: The Government May Be Monitoring Your Purchases

BLOG from our #ABKLaw Partner Michael Jaccarino, Esq.:  The Government May Be Monitoring Your Purchases

DEA agents thought that criminals purchase money-counting machines. A recent report shows that the Drug Enforcement Administration secretly collected data in bulk about Americans’ purchases of money-counting machines, which are obviously legal to buy.  In addition, they took steps to hide the program from the courts and from defendants who were later charged with crimes.

Why did they do this? Simply, they were seeking leads about who may be trafficking drugs, under the general and completely misguided theory that an individual who is counting large sums of cash, must be selling drugs.  

Then, instead of seeking permission from the courts, agents of the DEA sent blanket subpoenas to vendors to learn who was buying these machines. There was no court oversight and these subpoenas were not tied to any pending investigation. They were fishing expeditions. This resulted in the agency collecting tens of thousands of names and addresses of people who bought the devices.  It goes without saying that these practices were legally questionable. For instance, if a search warrant or other law enforcement activity was based in whole or in part on this data collection, it could taint the investigation, and could result in the suppression of evidence that may have been gathered later.

This was an abuse to vacuum up Americans’ names into a database that would be analyzed to identify criminal suspects, based solely upon their purchase of a lawful product.   By hiding this practice, we can infer that the DEA knew it was wrong. More importantly, any criminal prosecution that had a genesis in this bulk data collection program should be challenged by the defense attorney.

Contact our office today to find out more about how this can impact you. 212-486-0011

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