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FBI let informants commit more than 5,000 crimes in a single year, documents show

FBI agents hoping to investigate and take down criminal organizations allowed their informants to break the law more than 5,000 times in a single year, according to newly-released documents.

The FBI began tracking crimes by informants more than a decade ago after it let mobster James “Whitey” Bulger operate his crime ring in exchange for information on the mafia, USA Today reports in an exclusive story.

Crimes that agents have authorized have included everything from buying and selling drugs to plotting robberies.

A 2011 FBI report obtained by USA Today through a Freedom of Information Act request said agents signed off on 5,658 crimes that year, but did not reveal specifics.

"It sounds like a lot, but you have to keep it in context," Shawn Henry, a former FBI criminal investigations supervisor, told USA Today. "This is not done in a vacuum. It's not done randomly. It's not taken lightly."

Click for more from USA Today.

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