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Customs Service Seizes Spy Devices in Multistate Raids

April 5, 1995

NEW YORK (AP) _ Customs agents raided spy equipment stores in several cities today, seizing miniature eavesdropping devices they say are illegal under federal law.

The raids were carried out with search warrants in New York, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Reston, Va., according to Customs officials.

Janet Rapaport, spokeswoman for the Customs Service in New York, said several stores in the New York area were targeted, and 11 people were charged. Identities weren’t immediately released.

Rapaport declined to give further details. Some of the seized materials _ transmitters, recorders and eavesdropping devices _ were to be put on display later today.

Customs agents served 15 search warrants in the Miami area, looking for illegal miniaturized wiretap gear and sales records, said Keith Prager, assistant special agent in charge of the Miami office.

Japanese-made transmitters resembling ballpoint pens and credit card-sized calculators were targeted, along with illegal telephone jack transmitters, Prager said.

He said criminal charges included illegal possession, sale, importation and exportation of equipment known in the industry as ESIDs, or electronic surreptitious intercept devices.

Raid targets in the Miami area included Spy Shops International, which markets high-tech surveillance gear for amateurs and professionals. That company has a Nyack address and a phone number in the Manhattan directory, but the number was disconnected.

Phones went unanswered at all of the three spy equipment shops listed in the Manhattan directory.