Riverside County is the wiretap capitol of the Unites States, thanks to a massive wiretapping operation led by the Drug Enforcement administration that channeled over a thousand electronic intercept orders through one judge in the Inland Empire.

That’s according to an investigation co-published by USA Today and the Palm Desert Sun. Between 2013 and 2014, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Helios Hernandez, the former chief narcotics prosecutor, approved almost a thousand wiretaps requested by federal, state and local law enforcement.

However, officials at the U.S. Department of Justice are refusing to prosecute cases stemming from these wires, claiming that they are of dubious legality.

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Ali Winston is a freelance reporter, covering surveillance, privacy and criminal justice. His writing has won awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, the New York City Community Media Alliance, the City University of New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club and the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Originally from New York, he is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the University of California, Berkeley.