Assembly OKs wiretap bill to help stop human trafficking


STATE HOUSE – With votes in both chambers today, the General Assembly has approved legislation sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Cynthia A. Coyne and House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Carol Hagan McEntee to allow wiretaps for suspected human trafficking investigations.

The legislation (2022-S 2706, 2022-H 7700) would add felony violations of human trafficking to the offenses for which investigators may apply for a court order for the interception of wire or oral communication.

“Human trafficking is a heinous crime that destroys the victims’ lives, and it remains a very real problem here in Rhode Island and throughout the country. Investigators need every available tool to stop traffickers, and since traffickers often work in networks, intercepting communication is very important in shutting them down and bringing them to justice,” said Chairwoman Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence), who is a retired state trooper.

The legislation, which is backed by Attorney General Peter F. Neronha, now goes to the governor for consideration.

“The exploitation and unspeakable abuse suffered by victims of human trafficking are among the worst crimes within our society and law enforcement needs every investigative measure available to combat this very real, complex and sadly prevalent crime that occurs within our borders,” said Representative McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett).