Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "informants" ...

  • Direkt36: Russian arms dealers

    Two Russian arms dealers operating in Hungary, Vladimir Lyubishin Sr. and Jr., were apprehended as a result of a U.S. DEA sting operation in late 2016. The Lyubishins wanted to supply a Mexican drug cartel with weapons to protect shipments of cocaine against US authorities and rival gangs. In reality, the Russians were negotiating with paid DEA informants. After the arrests, however, the Lyubishins managed to escape US justice thanks to Hungary’s Kremlin-friendly government as Hungary denied Washington’s request for extradition and sent the two arms dealers to Moscow instead. The operation as well as the extradition scandal was kept secret and was first revealed by my story.
  • Trapped in Gangland

    The Central American gang MS-13 accounts for 1 percent of U.S. gang murders. But when Donald Trump became president, he seized on the gang’s violence on Long Island to promote tougher immigration policies. This series, co-published with New York magazine, Newsday, The New York Times Magazine and This American Life, showed how Trump’s bungled crackdown on MS-13 burned informants, deported young immigrants suspected of gang involvement on flimsy evidence, and failed to prevent further murders. Based on a year and a half of difficult and dangerous reporting, ProPublica reporter Hannah Dreier’s stories persuasively depicted how an entire subculture of Latino teenagers came to be trapped between the gang and the government.
  • Confidential Informants

    Lesley Stahl reports on law enforcement's controversial use of young confidential informers in the war on drugs, some of whose cases ended tragically.
  • Juarez, A Fragile Peace

    This investigation was among the first ones to look back in time and write a poignant narrative on how the battle between the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels and the co-option of police forces as fighters for their criminal causes, turned the streets of this U.S.-Mexico border city into rivers of blood. It focused on how peace was obtained in 2012 with a combination of civic and government involvement, the arrival of a top tough-as-nails police chief who cleaned up the police, and intelligence provided by DEA informants that help jail top drug leaders, thus diffusing the fight.
  • The drug war at Alabama

    This series investigated the uniquely intrusive and harsh tactics the University of Alabama and local law enforcement agencies have employed in their efforts to address drug use and abuse on campus at UA. The first installment was the first in the nation to expose a university engaged in mandatory drug-testing of fraternities. The second looked at an infamous 2013 drug raid that targeted low-level student marijuana offenders and had lasting negative impacts many students' lives. And the third piece focused on the use of UA students as confidential drug informants, including the first-person story of one student who actually served as an undercover informant for the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force.
  • The Narco-Terror Trap

    This project traces the Drug Enforcement Administration’s use of a little-known statute of the Patriot Act to create a role for itself in the war on terror, based largely on unsubstantiated assertions that terrorists were using the drug trade to finance attacks against the United States. The statute, adopted with broad bi-partisan support, allows the D.E.A. to pursue so-called narco-terrorists anywhere in the world, even when none of their alleged crimes occurred on American soil. Between 2002 and 2008, the agency’s budget for foreign operations increased by some 75 percent, which supported expansions into Afghanistan, Eastern Europe, and West Africa. But an examination of the D.E.A.’s narco-terrorism cases reveals that most unraveled as they proceeded through court. The cases relied heavily on sting operations, and the only evidence of any links between terrorists and traffickers was concocted by the D.E.A., which used highly-paid informants to lure targets into staged narco-terrorism conspiracies. The first piece tells the story of three small-time smugglers from Mali who were arrested in West Africa, transported to New York and accused as narco-terrorists with links to Al-Qaeda. It explains how the D.E.A.’s narco-terrorism campaign began in the arrest-first-ask-questions-later period that followed 9/11. And it details the negligible contributions that the effort, whose total cost remains unknown, has made to keeping the country safe from either terrorists or drug traffickers. Nearly three years after the Malian’s arrest, a judge found that the men were not linked to Al-Qaeda, and that they had been motivated to participate in the D.E.A.’s fake conspiracy by an informant’s offer to pay them millions of dollars. The second piece uses an interactive comic – ProPublica’s first – to bring a sharper focus to the patterns in the DEA’s cases. It uses five different narco-terrorism operations in five different parts of the world. The interactivity of the comic allows readers to see how the agency’s stings use essentially the same script in order to make disparate targets fit the designated crime. https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/narco
  • License to Launder: Cash, cops and cartels: A Miami Herald investigation

    The Miami Herald's License to Launder exposed an undercover police task force that turned a sting operation into an unchecked cash machine for police and their informants, laundering $71.5 million for drug cartels -- reaping millions in profits for brokering the deals -- then returned the rest to the same criminal groups without making a single arrest.
  • Informants

    “Informants” tells the stories of three paid FBI informants who posed as Muslims as they searched for people interested in joining violent plots concocted by the FBI. With extraordinary access to FBI agents and their informants, as well as undercover recordings, Al Jazeera’s documentary raises questions about whether the men targeted would have acted at all were it not for the paid informants working on the cases. It also brings into question one of the government’s favored domestic counter-terrorism tools after 9/11. The film features never-before-seen video from FBI undercover sting operations and interviews with three former FBI informants; reveals new information about the crimes FBI informants committed while working for the government; exposes how the FBI targeted one young man for recruitment as an informant; features an exclusive interview with a man convicted on terrorism charges in one of the highest-profile federal cases of the last decade; and reveals the identity of one of the FBI’s secret informants. “Informants” is an evocative documentary that breaks new ground covering and questioning U.S. national security policy.
  • New York Times: Rikers Island

    An investigation revealed routine, brutal attacks by guards on inmates, many of them mentally ill, at Rikers Island in New York City, the nation’s second-largest jail, and profound dysfunction at the city agency that oversees the jail. It exposed a flagrant cover-up of wrongdoing by ranking supervisors who, instead of being disciplined, were promoted. Though Rikers officials fought the investigation at every turn, with great patience Times reporters developed a web of confidential informants who told them the true state of affairs.
  • Campus Confidential Informants

    Student journalists in Professor Steve Fox's Investigative Journalism & The Web class uncovered that the University of Massachusetts Amherst police use confidential informants, potentially putting students' safety at risk. Officers were allowing students to avoid campus and criminal consequences for drug offenses in return for becoming police informers, allowing some students to conceal dangerous drug habits from their families. After months of investigation, student journalists Eric Bosco and Kayla Marchetti reported that a UMass student who agreed to become a confidential informant to avoid a drug arrest, died of a heroin overdose. Publication of the student's death lead prosecutors to reopen the investigation into the overdose death after the student's mother gave them the name of the student she believes provided him with the drug.