The Drug Enforcement Agency operates a massive license plate tracking program that is open to various federal, state and local law agencies and was specifically designed to help the agency seize property through asset forfeiture, according to documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Heavily censored documents from the DEA show the “pilot” National License Plate Reader (LPR) Initiative was “officially opened” to “all of DEA” and the agency’s “federal, state and local counterparts” in May 2009.
The Wall Street Journal reported, “The DEA program collects data about vehicle movements, including time, direction, and location, from high-tech cameras placed strategically on major highways. Many devices also record visual images of drivers and passengers, which are sometimes clear enough for investigators to confirm identities, according to DEA documents and people familiar with the program.”
A slideshow showed that by 2011 there were 100 such devices deployed in the United States, including Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, New Mexico and Texas. Forty-one “plate reader monitoring stations” were established in Texas, New Mexico and California by 2010.