Bill allowing communications intercepts in human trafficking cases heads to Colo. governor

DENVER – A bill that would authorize judges in Colorado to issue ex parte orders for law enforcement to intercept communications regarding human trafficking is headed to the governor’s desk.

The Senate unanimously passed House Bill 1040 Monday morning on its third reading. It passed the House Feb. 7 by a 64-0 vote, though one representative was not present for the vote.

Should Gov. John Hickenlooper sign the bill, human trafficking would be added to the list of possible crimes that a judge can authorize communications intercepts for, if a district attorney or attorney general shows probable cause.

The attorneys would have to prove they believe evidence would be obtained related to the possible crime by using a wiretap or other means of interception.

First- and second-degree murder, kidnapping, gambling, robbery, robbery and a handful of other crimes are already authorized under Colorado law.

According to the latest Colorado Human Trafficking Council report, which was released in December 2016, there were 802 human-trafficking investigations by the Justice Department in Colorado in 2015 – down from 835 in 2014.

Seventy-two victims were recovered in 2015 by the Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force – 10 men and 62 women. The Colorado Trafficking and Organized Crime Coalition made 17 arrests in 2015.

The fiscal impact report for the bill says it would lead to more case fillings and addition evidence in existing cases, but that the costs and revenue added would both be limited.

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