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How Do Confidential Informants Continue to Commit Crimes With No Prosecution?

Some violations of the law are inherent in the work of acting as a confidential informant. For example, detectives can’t send out an informant to buy drugs with that informant, in turn, violating state laws prohibiting the possession of that drug.violent crime However, sometimes informants really do run amok and violate all sorts of laws, and sometimes this is with the seeming approval of the law enforcement agencies they are supposedly working for. Sometimes this is because the detectives working the informant are ignorant to what is going on, or sometimes the detectives are just looking the other way. It really varies. Unlike informants working for local agencies, federal informants are run under specific guidelines that spell out what they can do and what they can’t do. There is Tier 1 and Tier 2 type authorizations to violate the law, and authorizations must be in writing and must be limited to 90 day increments and signed off on by the special agent in charge and the US Attorney. Under no circumstances may the informant be allowed to commit violent crimes or to obstruct justice. Notable disasters have occurred such as the Whitey Bulger case, which haunts the FBI to this day and still comes up in internal memoranda as a good example of what can go wrong when informants are not properly supervised.

Learn more about informants.