Friday, October 1, 2010

Feds Spying From the Skies

Over the past several months, a single-engine, Cessna-type plane apparently registered to an undisclosed federal law enforcement agency has been circling above the epicenter of the national legalization movement: Oakland and Berkeley. A narcotics interdiction expert says the plane's model, low altitude, and habit of loitering over cities for hours and hours is consistent with Drug Enforcement Administration anti-pot operations, wherein the federal agency looks for the tell-tale heat signatures of grow houses and the special green color of outdoor gardens.

The US Supreme Court has ruled thermal imaging a private residence unconstitutional without a search warrant, but the eight-year narcotics veteran Cooper says in his experience, "they're using them anyway to spot suspicious houses. Then they set up and look for another reason to get the warrant. They do not put in the search warrant affidavit that they used the FLIR. They'll put in the search warrant affidavit that they saw cars coming in and out of the place, or their power usage was too high, or they got an undisclosed tip."