FBI Informants Allowed to Break the Law 5,658 Times in One Year

Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Whitey Bulger

Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) say that an indispensable part of their work involves using informants. But this arrangement means criminals get to break the law in exchange for giving the FBI important information.


In 2011 alone, FBI informants committed at least 5,658 crimes, for a daily average of 15 offenses. The crimes included buying and selling illegal drugs, bribing government officials and plotting robberies.


“It sounds like a lot, but you have to keep it in context,” Shawn Henry, who supervised criminal investigations for the FBI until he retired last year, told USA Today. “This is not done in a vacuum. It’s not done randomly. It’s not taken lightly.”


Up until about a decade ago, the FBI didn’t even bother to keep track what crimes its informants were committing. But the bureau had to change its ways after it was revealed that FBI agents allowed Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger to run his illegal operations in exchange for information about the Mafia.


The FBI had never before released its annual report on informant crimes, and only did so after USA Today requested a copy for 2011 through the Freedom of Information Act.


“Crimes authorized by the FBI almost certainly make up a tiny fraction of the total number of offenses committed by informants for local, state and federal agencies each year,” wrote Brad Heath of USA Today.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

FBI Allowed Informants to Commit 5,600 Crimes (by Brad Heath, USA Today)


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