The independent U.S. government spending watchdog, Open The Books, revealed that several law enforcement agencies authorized “crimes” and paid $548 million to informants over the past several years. 

The agencies tracked were the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), according to Forbes on Nov. 18. 

Among the figures obtained, it stands out that the aforementioned federal offices pay more than 20,000 informants, some of whom have enriched themselves by receiving millions of dollars. 

For his part, the Inspector General of Justice reported about DEA informants: “airline employee who received more than $600,000 in less than four-years, and a parcel employee who received over $1 million in five-years.”

He also reported that an Amtrak employee obtained $962,615 between 2010 and 2015 for information that “could have been obtained by DEA at no cost through a joint task force with the Amtrak Police,” thus calling those payments “a substantial waste of government funds.”

In this regard, the then-chairman of the Congressional Oversight Committee on Confidential Informants, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), pointed to an event that could set up corruption where “a court released the testimony of one confidential informant in Atlanta who received $212,000 from the DEA from 2011 to 2013. She testified she wasn’t sure why she was paid. That was her testimony.”

He added: “She also testified to a sexual relationship with the DEA group supervisor, who allegedly convinced the subordinates to falsify reports to justify the payments. That case is currently under review by the inspector general.”

As for “crimes” committed by informants and authorized by agencies such as the FBI, they include drug purchases, criminalized if they had not been prompted by them. 

“Since 1980, the Guidelines have permitted agencies to authorize informants to engage in activities that would otherwise constitute crimes under federal, state, or local law if someone without such authorization engaged in these same activities,” according to the General Accountability Office (GAO).

“For example, in the appropriate circumstance, an agency could authorize an informant to purchase illegal drugs from someone who is the target of a drug-trafficking investigation. Such conduct is termed “otherwise illegal activity,'” the GAO added. 

According to the Daily Dot, at least 22,823 such offenses were authorized by the FBI between 2011 and 2014. 

Additionally, the FBI has acted in ways that raise questions about transparency, as occurred in the events on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6. 

In this case, at least two informants in the crowd of protesters were in close contact with their FBI superiors on Jan. 6.

Also, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) asked Attorney General Merrick Garland whether a man encouraging attendees to enter the Capitol was an FBI provocateur.

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