Federal agencies paid out at least $548 million to informants working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), in recent years, according to government audits.
- A few informants became millionaires, with some Amtrak and “parcel” delivery workers making nearly $1 million or more.
- Many informants were authorized to commit “crimes” with the permission of their federal handlers. In a four-year period, there were 22,800 crime authorizations (2011-2014).
- The FBI paid approximately $294 million (FY2012-2018), the DEA paid at least $237 million (FY2011-2015), and ATF paid approximately $17.2 million total (FY2012-2015) to informants.
Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com compiled this information by reviewing federal reports. While some of the data is several-years old; it’s apparently the most recent available.
The FBI spent an average of $42 million a year on confidential human sources between fiscal years 2012 and 2018. “Long term” informants comprised 20 percent of its intelligence relationships (source: DOJ IG 2019 report).
The ATF employed 1,855 informants who were paid $4.3 million annually (FY2012-2015). Therefore, on average, each informant made $2,318 for the year. (source: DOJ IG report 2017).