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The FBI and informants, part 2: types of authorized crimes

In the first part of this post, we introduced the issue of the commission of so-called "sanctioned crimes."

Sanctioned crimes are violations of the law that are allowed by law enforcement agencies for various reasons. Perhaps the most common reason is the maintenance of relationships with informers who may be able to provide information to help solve or prosecute other crimes.

As we noted in part one, FBI data shows that the total number of sanctioned crimes has been going up recently.

In this part of the post, we will examine how the FBI distinguishes between various levels of crimes in determining whether to give official sanction to violations of the law.

The U.S. Department of Justice distinguishes between Tier I and Tier II violations.

Tier I violations encompass a range of acts that would be illegal if not authorized by law enforcement. Such violations include:
Violent crimes
• Public corruption
• Drug manufacturing
• Drug distribution

Tier II violations contain the same range of offenses as Tier 1. The difference is that Tier 1I violations require an additional level of approval in order to become authorized crimes. In practice, this means that a senior FBI official must sign off on them. The permission of a federal prosecutor is not enough.

One of the most high-profile examples of authorized crimes in recent years involved the Boston organized-crime figure Whitey Bulger. Bulger became an informer for the FBI and was the real-life model for a character played by Jack Nicholson in Martin Scorcese's film "The Departed."

Bulger's authorized crimes were eventually exposed to public scrutiny. This prompted considerable concern about excessive use of authorized crimes. As a result, federal law now mandates that the FBI prepare documentation regarding all of the crimes that the bureau authorized.

Source: RT, "FBI allowed even more crimes in 2012 than in previous year," Dec. 27, 2013

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