The New York Times October 16, 1934
Morganthau Favors Tapping of Wires In Treasury Agents' War on Narcotics
Special to The New York Times.
WASHINGTON, Oct. 15. -- Wire-tapping as a means of detecting violators of the laws against narcotics, smuggling and bootlegging was tacitly approved today by Secretary Morganthau.
Asked about a rumor that wire-tapping instructions had been sent out by the Narcotic Bureau, he said he had not heard of it, but added that the Treasury would not hesitate to use any "feasible" means to detect narcotics peddlers. This also was true, he said, in the case of bootleggers and smugglers.
"We do not propose to be sissies," he said.
His remarks aroused special interest when it was recalled that in 1929 the Supreme Court ruled in a prohibition case that telephone wire-tapping in some instances was illegal.
At the Narcotic Bureau it was stated that no instructions had been sent to agents relative to telephone wire-tapping for crime detection purposes. The bureau admitted, however, that it was interested in this method.
During the early days of prohibition wire-tapping was used by Federal agents. Under the administrations of Dr. James M. Doran and Colonel Amos W. Woodcock, however, this method was used only in the most flagrant conspiracy cases.
Mr. Morganthau observed today that a Treasury committee composed of representatives of the narcotic Bureau, the Secret Service alcohol tax unit, the coast Guard and the Customs Service met each week to discuss various phases of law enforcement within their jurisdiction.
Asked about progress in enforcement of the narcotic laws, he remarked that the price of opium on the Pacific Coast had doubled within recent months.