Why do drug dealers love pre-paid cell phones? Why do police hate pre-paid cell phones?

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Ironically the answer is the same for both. No I.D. is required when buying the phones and they are cheap, disposable and untraceable. Legislation in Trenton seeks to strictly regulate the sale of pre-paid cell phones. The bill's sponsor says they are helping fuel a drug abuse epidemic in every corner of the state.

Following a disturbing state report detailing the rise of prescription drug and heroin abuse in New Jersey and the systematic operations of those who supply it, Assemblywoman Marlene Caride has introduced a bill to help curtail these illegal drug operations and the epidemic use of these deadly drugs by better regulating pre-paid cell phones commonly used by drug dealers.

"No I.D. is required when buying these phones, they are usually bought with cash and are discarded once the minutes are used up, leaving no trail behind," says Caride. "This makes the work of law enforcement that much tougher."

Legislation sponsored by Cardie supplements the consumer fraud act to make it illegal for any prepaid wireless telephone service provider or wireless telephone service provider to sell or activate prepaid phone service without first recording:

  • A photocopy of the individual's driver's license or non-driver identification card.
  • The telephone number assigned to the prepaid wireless telephone service, prepaid wireless telephone equipment, wireless telephone service or prepaid wireless telephone equipment.
  • The serial number assigned to the prepaid wireless telephone equipment or the wireless telephone equipment.
  • The date of sale; and any other information as required by the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs in the department of Law and Public Safety.

"We know these phones are being used for illegal purposes because of the anonymity they provide," explains Caride. "This bill would make them a less convenient tool for criminals by requiring certain information at the time of purchase, including the buyer's identification."

Under the bill, a provider must retain all recorded information for a period of two years after the date of purchase of such service for equipment. After the two-year period, the provider must destroy or arrange for the destruction of the photocopy of the individual's driver's license or non-driver identification card.

Another bill sponsored by Caride requires the Attorney General to establish a Statewide Opioid Law Enforcement Coordinating Task Force within the Department of Law and Public Safety in order to identify, investigate and prosecute the illegal sources and distribution of prescription opioid drugs; and provide training for law enforcement officials, physicians, pharmacists and other health care professionals in state-of-the-art methods to detect prescription drug diversion and related abuses.

The bills are based on two of several recommendations made by the State Commission of Investigation (SCI) to fight this growing problem in its report, "Scenes from an Epidemic: A Report on the SCI's Investigation of Prescription Pill and Heroin Abuse." The report was the result of a two-year SCI investigation examining who are the entities profiting off the rise in prescription painkiller addictions in New Jersey, and how addicts transitioned into the cheaper, but more potent heroin.