The Drug Enforcement Administration does a poor job overseeing the millions of dollars in payments it distributes to confidential sources, relies on tipsters who operate with minimal oversight or direction, and has continued paying informants who were no longer supposed to be used, says a U.S. Justice Department Inspector General’s report quoted by the Associated Press. The watchdog found pervasive problems with the drug agency’s confidential source program, which between 2010 and 2015 relied on more than 18,000 active informants to help gather tips, leads, and intelligence in drug investigations.
More than 9,000 of those sources received roughly $237 million in payments. Though DEA views informants as vital, the inspector general last year criticized the agency for weak controls and oversight of its sources, and said in the new report that many problems remain. “We found that the DEA did not adequately oversee payments to its sources, which exposes the DEA to an unacceptably increased potential for fraud, waste and abuse, particularly given the frequency with which DEA offices utilize and pay confidential sources,” the office wrote. The report estimates that the DEA may have paid about $9.4 million to more than 800 sources who were no longer supposed to be used as informants.