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The DEA Is Literally Using Surveillance to Get Better at Stealing from Travelers


 When Louis Weiss, the former supervisor of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), was interviewed by USA Today’s Brad Heath, the former DEA employee had no problem discussing the government agencies’ dependence on stolen property in order to pad their budgets and increase discretionary spending.

At the DEA, Weiss told USA Today, they “count on [civil asset forfeiture] as part of the budget.”

“Basically,” the former DEA supervisor said, “you’ve got to feed the monster.”

Several law enforcement agencies, including the DEA, often use civil asset forfeiture to seize cash from Americans who aren’t guilty of committing a crime. But recently, the DEA was caught taking a further step to meet its forfeiture ambitions: data mining traveler information.

The process is fairly simple. In order to spot travelers with large sums of cash in hand, agents profile passengers on Amtrak trains and nearly every major U.S. airline, drawing on reports from a network of travel-industry informants that extends from ticket counters to back offices.”

In many cases, USA Today added, agents single “out passengers for questioning or searches for reasons as seemingly benign as traveling one-way to California or having paid for a ticket in cash.”


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