In a recent Minneapolis narcotics investigation,  officers used a cell phone locator tool to track a drug dealer to his residence. A confidential informant provided police officers with information that a suspect known as “Dennis” was dealing large amounts of powdered and crack cocaine in North Minneapolis. The informant supplied officers with the suspect’s cell phone number and   a description of the vehicles driven by the drug  dealer.

Police Officers arranged a surveillance in order to track the location of the drug dealer’s cell phone number. Minneapolis police officers used a cell phone locator tool to send a “pinging” signal to the cell phone number of the suspected drug dealer every fifteen minutes. The signal forced the cell phone to enter the police network which then provided officers with information on the location of the cell phone within a certain radius. Police monitored the signal for a two week period and determined there was a cluster of signals emitted by the cell phone in a three block radius  near Logan Avenue North and Broadway Avenue between 2:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. Officers used the information to locate the two vehicles described by the informant parked in front of a residence on Logan Avenue North. A surveillance was set up at the Logan Avenue residence. Officers observed the suspect depart and return to the residence using a key and driving both vehicles described by the informant. During the two week surveillance period, officers arranged for two controlled buys of cocaine from the suspect. The confidential informant called the identified cell phone number and ordered cocaine.  The phone calls were recorded by police. After the two controlled buys, police executed a narcotics search warrant at the Logan residence and located 13.1 grams of crack cocaine and a firearm. The drug dealer, at the time of his arrest, had in his possession a cell phone with an assigned number that matched the phone number provided to the police by the confidential informant. The voice of the suspect on the recorded phone calls made by the confidential informant matched the same voice of “Dennis” who made the mistake of giving  police a recorded statement  after his arrest.

The drug dealer was convicted by a Hennepin County jury of first degree controlled substance crime and ineligible firearm possession. The cell phone tracker is a powerful tool to catch suspected drug dealers. Was the use of the cell phone locator tool by the Minneapolis Police Department constitutional? If the use violated the Fourth Amendment, a skilled Minneapolis Criminal Defense can file a motion to suppress the use of the evidence, including  any evidence seized by the police during the execution of the search warrant. If you have been charged with a controlled substance crime, call Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane for the “Best Defense”  at (612) 339-1024 or visit his website for more information at