Privacy SOS

Drug Enforcement Administration pays nearly $1 million for passenger data it could have gotten for free

A drug warrior posing with plants.

The nation's premiere drug war agency paid an Amtrak employee nearly one million dollars in government funds in exchange for passenger information the spies could have gotten for free. The Amtrak employee sold passenger data to the DEA "regularly" since 1995. And we only know about it because Amtrak—not the DEA—told the public.

What happened to the Amtrak official who sold all of that passenger information to our nation's drug warriors, who could have gotten it for free? He was allowed to retire and didn't face any administrative sanction. As for the DEA? This is business as usual.

"It’s not unprecedented for law enforcement to have professional people who are informants employed in transportation and other industries, said a federal law enforcement official who is familiar with the incident involving Amtrak" told PBS.

The drug war is an immoral disaster that breeds corruption and hemorrhages precious public funds. This story is just another brick in its wall of shame.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.