Feeds

Leaked docs: SOD squad feeds NSA intelligence to drug enforcement plods

It gets worse: DEA demands that enforcers lie about source of evidence

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Leaked documents have revealed the existence of a Special Operations Division (SOD) within the Drug Enforcement Agency that receives and distributes tips gleaned by the NSA to arrange arrests, and then hides where that information came from.

"That's outrageous," Tampa attorney James Felman, a vice chairman of the criminal justice section of the American Bar Association, told Reuters. "It strikes me as indefensible."

According to documents seen by Reuters, SOD was set up in 1994 to deal with drug cartels and organized trafficking of narcotics, and uses information provided by the NSA and other sources to inform agents of possible arrest possibilities.

A US federal agent who worked with the SOD squad told the news agency, "You'd be told only, ‘Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.' And so we'd alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it."

But part of the deal for getting this data is that the DEA and others should cover up the information's source by setting up a fake investigation trail – a process known as "parallel construction". For example, the police could say the arrest was made during a routine traffic stop or on the word of an informant.

"It's just like laundering money – you work it backwards to make it clean," said Finn Selander, a DEA agent from 1991 to 2008.

One federal prosecutor told how he was dealing with a drug case in Florida when a DEA agent lied about the source of information that led to an arrest, saying it had come from an informant. When pressed, the agent admitted the data had come from SOD.

"I was pissed," the prosecutor said. "Lying about where the information came from is a bad start if you're trying to comply with the law because it can lead to all kinds of problems with discovery and candor to the court." He later dropped the case.

Law enforcement agents said that the practice was not uncommon in drug cases. Often a suspect will plead guilty and there's no need to examine evidence in court, but in some cases where the defendant has fought their corner, legal actions have been dropped rather than expose SOD to public scrutiny.

"It was an amazing tool," said one recently retired federal agent. "Our big fear was that it wouldn't stay secret."

White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the Department of Justice is "looking into" the report. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.