Hold on to your hats. The DOJ Inspector General has published an audit of the DEA's confidential-informant program, recognizing that "confidential sources can be motivated by factors other than combating crime, including financial gain and avoidance of punishment; therefore, care must be taken to evaluate and supervise their use."The report details a plethora of significant concerns about the DEA's use of informants. Some highlights:
- Based on our review of DEA’s confidential source data, we estimated the DEA may have paid about $9.4 million to more than 800 deactivated sources between fiscal years (FY) 2011 and 2015.
- Another area of concern is the DEA’s oversight of confidential sources it categorized as "Limited Use," often referred to as "tipsters," which DEA policy specifies are sources who make information available independently without direction by the DEA. The Limited Use category is regarded by the DEA as low-risk and therefore DEA policy requires the least supervision. Yet we found that Limited Use sources were some of DEA’s highest paid sources, with 477 Limited Use sources during the period of our review having received an estimated $26.8 million.
- We also found the DEA did not appropriately track all confidential source activity; did not document proper justifications for all source payments; and, at times, did not adequately safeguard traveler information.
- We were extremely concerned to discover the DEA condoned its confidential sources’ use of "sub-sources," who are individuals a source recruits and pays to perform activities or provide information related to the source’s work for the DEA.
- Another significant area of concern is the limited management, oversight, and tracking of source payments by the DEA’s Intelligence Division.
- The deficiencies we identified in this audit raise significant concerns about the adequacy of the current policies, procedures, and oversight associated with the DEA’s management of its Confidential Source Program.