8 Jan 2016

The DEA paid an Amtrak employee more than $850,000 to serve as a confidential informant for the agency only to receive information that was always available to the DEA at no cost (usatoday.com)

The Drug Enforcement Administration paid an Amtrak employee more than $850,000 during the past 20 years to serve as a confidential informant for the agency only to receive information that was always available to the DEA at no cost, an internal Justice Department review found.
The Amtrak employee, who was not identified in an investigative summary prepared by the Justice Department's inspector general, was being paid to assist a task force involving the DEA and Amtrak Police Department aimed at identifying contraband trafficking on the passenger train system.
A second Amtrak employee, assigned to a different task force, was paid a much lesser amount — $9,701 — again for information that was freely available to the DEA, the inspector general found.
Both arrangements, according to the inspector general, violated federal regulations and were regarded as "wasting substantial government funds.''
In addition, the investigation concluded that when DEA officials sought approval to register both Amtrak employees as informants in the "confidential source program," the required documents did not contain information that the informants would be paid.
DEA and Amtrak officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.
In a separate finding, the inspector general concluded that the DEA registered aTransportation Security Administration screener in the confidential source program to provide information on passengers who might be carrying large sums of money, even though TSA employees would already be obligated to provide such information to law enforcement officers.
Although the inspector general found that the screener did not provide "any actionable information'' and was not paid by the DEA, the arrangement could have "violated individuals' protection against unreasonable searches and seizures'' had it led to DEA enforcement action.
In the end, the TSA informant was "deactivated for inability to provide any useful information.''
The findings disclosed Thursday come in the wake of the inspector general's stinging rebuke of the DEA's failure to provide proper oversight of some 240 confidential informants. 
In a July report, the inspector general concluded that the DEA followed an ad-hoc informant management policy that did not abide by established Justice Department guidelines and exposed the government to "significant risk.''

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