By using a wiretapping law for the first time since it entered into force in 2000, the Metropolitan Police Department has arrested nine suspects and put another on a wanted list in a drug case, the MPD said Thursday.
Tokyo police said they wiretapped conversations on two mobile phones over about 10 days from late January through early February.
The law allows investigators to tap phones, faxes and e-mail in investigations when it is difficult to build a case using other means.
Under a warrant issued by a judge, investigators are allowed to eavesdrop on suspects’ communications only in four types of organized crimes — drug dealing, gun offenses, mass smuggling of immigrants and murder plots.
The law requires investigators to notify the subjects of wiretaps within 30 days of the end of such operations, but they are allowed to extend the period to up to 60 days if they believe that notification will be an obstruction to their investigation.
In the current case, the MPD said it has already notified the suspects.
According to police, they served a fresh arrest warrant on Koyo Narita, a 32-year-old senior mobster, on suspicion of violating the narcotics control law.
Narita has already been charged with violating the stimulants control law.
An acquaintance of his has been put on the wanted list in connection with the case, and eight people have been arrested on suspicion of purchasing stimulants, police said.
Police have also confiscated 6.4 grams of stimulant drugs and four mobile phones.
The MPD found a message on an Web site last fall that suggested deals involving stimulants, they said.
In January, the MPD asked the Tokyo District Court to allow it to eavesdrop on mobile telephone conversations using a contact number on the Web site, according to the police.
After the court issued the eavesdropping warrant, police began wiretapping conversations in late January at facilities of two mobile phone companies, while company staff observed the tapping as required under the law, they said.
Police said about 200 people from 22 prefectures across the country purchased stimulant drugs in the case.
The law, subject of controversy before its enactment due to privacy concerns, was enacted in August 1999 and went into effect a year later.
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