Fourth Circuit affirms wiretap evidence (unpublished)

US v. Amir Faraz. Amir Ali Faraz was convicted of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 1 kilogram or more of heroin and 100 kilograms or more of marijuana, two counts of possession with intent to distribute heroin, four counts of use of a communication facility to facilitate narcotics trafficking, and interstate travel with intent to promote drug trafficking. He was sentenced to 240 months’ imprisonment. Faraz appealed and the Fourth Circuit affirmed.

On appeal, Faraz argued, among other things, that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress wiretap evidence.

The Government bears the burden of showing the “necessity” of a wiretap but “this burden is not great.” The unpublished opinion reasons:

We review the district court’s finding of “necessity” for abuse of discretion. United States v. Wilson, 484 F.3d 267, 281 (4th Cir. 2007). The Government established necessity through the initial wiretap application and the applications for extension, which thoroughly explained how investigators were having difficulty infiltrating the drug conspiracy, that use of other investigative techniques on their own would be problematic because of their limited value in exposing the full scope of the conspiracy, and that wiretaps combined with other investigative techniques would likely be effective because suspected members of the conspiracy used the target telephones in furtherance of illicit activities. Considering both the detailed showings made in the wiretap applications and investigators’ objectives in attempting to ascertain the full scope of the conspiracy, the district court’s finding of necessity was not an abuse of discretion. See United States v. Galloway, 749 F.3d 238, 242-43 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 135 S. Ct. 215 (2014); Smith, 31 F.3d at 1297. The district court thus did not reversibly err in denying Defendants’ motions to suppress.

There is nothing groundbreaking here, but this unpublished opinion will probably show up in future string cites arguing against suppression of wiretap evidence.