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Patriot Act Used In Drug Case

Patriot Act Used In Drug Case

The Wichita Eagle
March 27, 2008

The lawyer for a man accused of being a major cocaine supplier for the Wichita Crips gang contends that a secret search of the man’s house under the Patriot Act was illegal.

In a recent motion to suppress any evidence from the search, defense lawyer Charles O’Hara argued that the Patriot Act was meant for “serious matters involving national security,” not drug cases like the one involving his client, Tyrone Andrews.

“I thought that this Patriot Act was something passed to protect us all from these terrorist acts, and it would be used very judiciously,” O’Hara said Monday. “This doesn’t seem to be one where these secret searches would be used.”

Jim Cross, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Wichita, said the office “believes the evidence in this case was legally obtained.”

“I think our legal arguments are clearly stated in the documents we have filed,” Cross said. He said he couldn’t comment further because the case is before a federal court.

A federal grand jury indictment released Dec. 21 accused Andrews, a 38-year-old aircraft plant worker, and seven other Wichita men of 48 counts of drug-related crimes including trafficking and conspiracy. The government seeks a forfeiture of $300,000 from Andrews.

In an affidavit filed in July seeking the search warrant, a federal agent said a secret search was necessary to protect evidence and to prevent suspects from fleeing or from intimidating witnesses.

The affidavit alleged the Crips gang has been involved in cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana distribution in Wichita for “at least the past 15 years.”

“Tyrone Andrews has been supplying various individuals in the gang with cocaine for many years, and is considered to be a major supplier of cocaine to the Crips…” the affidavit alleges.

The affidavit alleges that Andrews lived at one home but used a house on South Ridgewood as a drug “stash” house.

As part of the investigation, agents wanted to check the house to see whether electronic recording devices could be installed, the affidavit said.

Normally, investigators leave a copy of a search warrant and a receipt for items taken once a house is searched. But in the Andrews case, investigators obtained clearance to secretly search the house, which they did July 17, and not notify him until 90 days afterward, O’Hara said.

In the affidavit, the ATF agent contended that earlier disclosure to Andrews could “seriously jeopardize the investigation.”

Another court document says that officers secretly entered the house and saw drug trafficking materials.

O’Hara said: “I don’t know that I’ve seen a warrant like this before.”

 


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