(Adds comment by DEA spokeswoman, adds details on previous
By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON, Sept 29 The U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration's program for paying confidential sources to
assist with narcotics-trafficking investigations is riddled with
deficiencies that could open the door to fraud and abuse, the
Justice Department's internal watchdog said on Thursday.
The Justice Department's Inspector General found in an audit
that the DEA continued to pay so-called deactivated sources, or
people who did not qualify to receive money because they had
been arrested or had committed serious crimes.
In one instance, the report says the DEA paid a source who
had provided false testimony in trials and depositions. Over a
five-year period, this confidential source was used by 13
different DEA field offices and paid $469,158.
All told, the audit found that the DEA has paid about $9.4
million to more than 800 deactivated sources from fiscal-year
2011 through 2015.
"While we did not review the circumstances of all of these
payments in depth, for available information it appears that
paying deactivated sources is common enough to justify much
closer managerial oversight and review of such payments," the
The report also raises questions about the DEA's practice of
paying so-called limited use sources, or tipsters who offer up
information independently to the government.
These kinds of sources are considered low-risk, yet the
audit found they were among some of the highest-paid sources.
Of 477 "limited sources" reviewed, they received a
collective $26.8 million.
DEA spokeswoman Barbara Carreno said the agency revised its
policies surrounding "cooperating sources" after a similar
inspector general report released in July 2015.
"Today's report highlights the need for continued
improvement," Carreno said.
Earlier this month, a father and son pleaded guilty to lying
to U.S. investigators while working on a narcotics probe of
Venezuela's first lady.
(Additional reporting by Julia Edwards in Washington; Editing
by Matthew Lewis)