GAO: Firearms Trafficking: U.S. Efforts to Combat Firearms Trafficking to Mexico Have Improved, but Some Collaboration Challenges Remain 

January 2016

According to data from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), 73,684 firearms (about 70 percent) seized in Mexico and traced from 2009 to 2014 originated in the United States.

GAO found that ICE and ATF had gaps in information sharing and misunderstandings related to their roles and responsibilities persist. Report

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CNS News: GAO: 70% of Firearms Seized in Mexico Came From USA




DOJ OIG: Audit of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Use of Income-Genrating, Undercover Operations 

September 2013

In 2004, ATF was granted the same authority previously provided to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to use proceeds generated from these undercover operations to offset necessary and reasonable operational expenses related to the same operations. ATF refers to this authority as “churning authority,” and to cases that use such authority as “churning investigations.” To date, the ATF has used this authority only to investigate tobacco diversion, which involves efforts to evade state, local, or federal tobacco taxes. 

OIG's audit included a review of 20 of the 36 churning investigations conducted by ATF between February 2006 and June 2011 that generated total reported revenues of nearly $162 million. 

OIG found a serious lack of oversight by ATF at both the headquarters and field office levels during the period of time covered by the audit. 

One unauthorized churning investigation sold approximately $15 million of cigarettes in an 18-month period. OIG further found that this investigation did not operate within ATF’s framework for managing churning investigations, and that it exceeded ATF’s statutory authority to conduct such investigations. Additionally, OIG found that the confidential informant was allowed to keep more than $4.9 million of the $5.2 million of gross profit generated from sales of tobacco to criminal targets. Report

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NEWSMAXATF Lost 420 Million Cigarettes in Stings, Audit Finds