Good Question: Could you get paid to become a drug informant?

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This week’s question comes from Facebook: “Would the police department pay me if I snitch on drug dealers?”

The short answer is yes, sometimes law enforcement pays informants. In fact, if you’re an informant, not only does crime pay, but it can be quite lucrative.

According a Washington Post article on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s confidential informants (detailed in this DEA report), that agency paid:

  • One source $30 million over a 30-year period, “some of it in cash payments of more than $400,000.”
  • Nine people $25 million during a five-year period, averaging $555,555 annually, for narcotics-related information and assisting law enforcement.
  • A parcel worker more than $1 million over five years, or $200,000 a year.
  • An airline employee over $600,000 in less than four years, more than $150,000 a year.

You would make much less — if anything — at a local level.

And, as with most things in life, where there’s high reward, there’s high risk. If your cover’s blown, it’s not just your job that’s in jeopardy.

This is what could have happened to a drug informant in northern Idaho last year, where 19-year-old Isaiah Wall was found dead from a gunshot to the head. Although the Idaho State Police won’t confirm Wall was an informant, texts on his phone and a Coeur d’Alene police detective indicate otherwise. It is unknown whether Wall, a former drug dealer, was killed or committed suicide due to the emotional toll of his situation.

And depending on the agency, you don’t even have to be an adult to be an informant. Some law enforcement agencies in Idaho have policies that allow them to use informants as young as 13, according to Inlander.

Still, it’s not as if police run wanted ads for informants. If you’re working in that capacity, chances are you’re already in trouble and are trying to get out of or lessen charges against you — you’re not doing it for the money. This is especially common for smaller drug busts, as detectives are more focused on the supplier or manufacturer than your average drug user.

My advice: If you want to get paid to inform others about drugs, become a pharmacist.

Do you have a Good Question about anything? Send it to Robert! Email him at, visit him on Twitter @notthegeneral or message him through’s Facebook page.