The price of the drug war: millions imprisoned, billions spent on incarceration—and the Drug Enforcement Administration paying millions in benefits to random, high-risk drug traffickers?

That last factoid comes courtesy of a new report from a Justice Department watchdog, which found that the DEA has been engaging in some highly questionable deals with their informants.

Inspectors discovered that the DEA has been shelling out workers' compensation benefits to barely-vetted informants—between 2013 and 2014, they paid over $1 million in benefits to just 17 drug traffickers and their dependents.

They used “over 240 confidential sources without rigorous review,” according to the report.

They then proceeded to approve dubious claims for these informants—like the time a source supposedly died overseas, and the DEA gave their family benefits.

Except, as the Washington Post recounts, there were no witnesses to the death, and no body was ever found.

In another case, the family of a deceased informant received thousands of dollars every week for over twenty years--totaling over $1.3 million in benefits.

“Although the exact amount of DEA confidential source (benefit) payments is unknown, it is clear that significant taxpayer dollars have been expended,” the report states.

From the Washington Post:
Despite what the policies say, the DEA’s review of potential informants’ files has long been a quick rubber stamp, investigators found. In a video released with the report, Horowitz said his investigators uncovered evidence that he said “raises significant concerns for one of the DEA’s more significant and sensitive programs.” A committee charged with reviewing informants weighed each source for an average of a minute each from 2003 to 2012, Horowitz said. “And that’s when there was any review at all.”

The report also alleges that the audit was “seriously delayed by numerous instances of uncooperativeness from the DEA, including attempts to prohibit the OIG’s observation of confidential source file reviews and delays, for months at a time, in providing the OIG with requested confidential source information and documentation.”