An honest and competent bureaucracy is an absolute necessity. They can’t all be so completely corrupt and incompetent or it’s game over.
Depending on your degree of cynicism the U.S. DOJ audit of their DEA can be hilarious, scary or maybe even informative. All is not lost (yet).
From The Intercept: theintercept.com/2016/09/30/deas-army-of-18000-informants-pocketed-237-million-over-five-years/?comments=1#comments
It’s no secret that the Drug Enforcement Administration relies heavily on an army of confidential sources — men and women compelled, coerced, or enticed to share information with law enforcement, sometimes to alleviate their own legal troubles, sometimes for cash.
Precisely how those relationships play out, however, is often shrouded in secrecy.
A recently published audit by the Department of Justice has now offered a startling glimpse behind the scenes of those operations, revealing a world in which hundreds of millions of dollars have been doled out to thousands of informants over the last five years. Those informants include package delivery personnel, bus company employees, and Transportation Security Administration agents moonlighting as drug war spies — all operating with abysmal oversight and scant evidence of return on investment.
Published Thursday by the DOJ’s Inspector General, the audit reports that from 2010 to 2015, the DEA boasted more than “18,000 active confidential sources assigned to its domestic offices, with over 9,000 of those sources receiving approximately $237 million in payments for information or services they provided.” By comparison, the FBI is said to maintain a roster of some 15,000 informants.
So-called limited-use informants, the audit found, are among the highest earners in the DEA’s ecosystem of sources, with 477 such informants earning an estimated $26.8 million during the period the DOJ examined — an average of about $56,000 per source.
The audit identified at least 33 DEA sources working at Amtrak, including train attendants and ticket agents, who collectively were paid more than $1.4 million over four years. On a daily basis, these sources would provide the DEA with printouts of passenger manifests and other information, allowing special agents to conduct background checks or brief interviews based on that information. In reviewing the DEA’s relationship to its well-paid Amtrak sources, the DOJ determined the information the sources dug up could have been provided by Amtrak authorities to the DEA at no cost to the federal government — DEA officials claimed that going through the proper channels to obtain the information was too time consuming. In one case, the DOJ identified an Amtrak employee who had worked as a DEA informant for 20 years, earning $962,615 for providing information.
The DOJ also found at least eight TSA employees who had secretly worked as DEA informants, marking the extension of a practice the Inspector General had first flagged as a problem earlier this year. Security screeners were used to “identify and provide the DEA with information pertaining to suspicious passengers carrying large sums of money that were identified during the course of the sources’ TSA duties,” the audit noted. “The OIG’s investigation found that registering a TSA security screener as a confidential source violated DEA policy, which precludes registering as a confidential source ‘employees of U.S. law enforcement agencies who are working solely in their official capacity with DEA.’”
In one case, the DOJ found a parcel company employee who had worked for the DEA for 12 years, earning more than $1 million. Over the course of the source’s secret employment for the agency, the individual intercepted more than 180 parcels, which were regularly forwarded on to the DEA. No drugs were ever found.
The audit also describes tens of millions of dollars paid to hundreds of sources whose status was “deactivated” by the DEA, meaning their relationship to law enforcement was meant to be cut off because they had an arrest warrant or had committed a serious offense. In one case, a source who was deactivated for providing false testimony in trials and depositions was reactivated by senior DEA officials, earning more than $400,000 over five years before being terminated again for providing false statements to a prosecutor.