Police intercepted communications between suspects in two illegal drug deals last year, arresting those involved under a wiretapping law enacted in August 2000, Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama said Friday.

Moriyama told reporters after a Cabinet meeting that law enforcement authorities will continue to employ wiretaps in an effective and appropriate manner. She said she will report details of their use to the Diet during its current session.

Under the law, which was the subject of controversy before its enactment due to privacy concerns, authorities are allowed to tap phone lines and intercept calls, e-mail and faxes in investigations when it is extremely difficult to build a case using other means.

In the first case, Moriyama said, the Metropolitan Police Department intercepted conversations between a mobster and his clients for 10 days in January last year in connection with the illicit sale of stimulants.

After the Tokyo District Court issued a warrant allowing the surveillance, police began wiretapping conversations at facilities of two mobile phone companies under the supervision of company staff, as required by law, according to Moriyama.

As a result, they discovered the transaction would take place in Kawasaki and arrested the people involved, she said.

In the second case, the Kanagawa Prefectural Police listened in on conversations over 12 days in September of a group allegedly involved in illegal drug sales, Moriyama said. Four people were subsequently arrested in Yokohama.

After receiving a warrant issued by a judge, investigators are only allowed to intercept communications in four types of organized crimes — drug dealing, gun offenses, mass smuggling of immigrants and murder.

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