DEA paid Amtrak Worker Over $854k For Passenger Data
Home » DEA paid Amtrak Worker Over $854k For Passenger Data
What’s worse than the DEA paying an exorbitant amount of money for information? They could have gotten it for FREE. That’s right, your tax dollars squandered again – turns out this information could have been easily obtained by the DEA through a law enforcement network shared amongst government law enforcement agencies.
The Drug Enforcement Administration paid an Amtrak secretary $854,460 over nearly 20 years to obtain confidential information about train passengers. The employee has only been identified as a “secretary to a train and engine crew” according to Amtrak’s inspector general.
Did this employee face reprimand? Of course not!
The secretary was allowed to retire, rather than face administrative discipline, after the discovery that the employee had effectively been acting as an informant who routinely sold private passenger information since 1995 without Amtrak’s approval, according to a one-paragraph summary of the matter.
Passenger name reservation information is collected by airlines, rail carriers and others and generally includes a passenger’s name, the names of other passengers traveling with them, the dates of the ticket and travel, frequent flier or rider information, credit card numbers, emergency contact information, travel itinerary, baggage information, passport number, date of birth, gender and seat number.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee called the $854,460 an unnecessary expense and asked for further information about the incident – he clamored that the payments raise some serious questions about the DEA’s practices and damages its credibility to cooperate with other law enforcement agencies.”
Under a joint drug enforcement task force that includes the DEA and Amtrak’s own police agency, the task force can obtain Amtrak confidential passenger reservation information at no cost, the inspector general’s report said. Under an agreement, Amtrak police would receive a share of any money seized as a result of such drug task force investigations, and Amtrak’s inspector general concluded that DEA’s purchase of the passenger information deprived the Amtrak Police Department of money it would have received from resulting drug arrests.
The DEA does not publish on its website its staff manuals or instructions for employees. It was not immediately clear whether the DEA has rules against soliciting corporate insiders to provide confidential customer information in exchange for money when providing that information would cause the employee to violate a company’s or organization’s own rules or policies.
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