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IG Report Sharply Criticizes ATF’s Program to Crack Down on Guns to Mexico

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON –– A Justice Department’s Inspector General report released Tuesday sharply criticized ATF’s efforts to crackdown on gun trafficking along the Mexican border, saying the agency is failing to share information within and outside the agency and with Mexico and is focusing far too much on smaller rather than bigger gun traffickers.

The 152-page report, which focused on ATF’s “Project Gunrunner”, which aims to curb gun trafficking to Mexico, found “that ATF does not systematically and consistently exchange intelligence with its Mexican and some U.S. partner agencies.”

“We found weaknesses in how ATF implemented Project Gunrunner as a multi-agency effort,” the report by Inspector General Glenn Fine concluded.

“In addition, some ATF field agents reported that they do not find investigative leads provided to them by ATF’s Field Intelligence Groups to be timely and usable,” the report said. “We also determined that intelligence personnel in ATF’s Southwest border field divisions do not routinely share firearms trafficking intelligence with each other.

“The success of Project Gunrunner depends, in part, on ATF’s sharing intelligence with its Mexican and U.S. partner agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“Although ATF has shared some strategic intelligence products with each of its partner agencies, it is not doing so systematically and consistently. ATF does share

U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Evaluation and Inspections Division tactical intelligence regularly with the DEA and DHS’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

“However, ATF has not provided Mexican law enforcement with intelligence it requested on firearms trafficking patterns and trends, including trafficking routes and distribution points where guns are crossing into Mexico.

“We also found no routine sharing of firearms trafficking-related information and techniques between ATF intelligence personnel in Southwest border locations and in the ATF Mexico Country Office.”

The report also criticized ATF for focusing largely on “gun dealers and investigations of straw purchasers, rather than on higher-level traffickers, smugglers, and the ultimate recipients of the trafficked guns.”

Kenneth Melson, head of ATF, responded in the report in a letter by saying:

“Review of the Gunrunner program requires in-depth knowledge and understanding of the context in which the Gunrunner program resides, the available resources, and the limitations imposed on the program.

“Although we believe the OIG review covered significant portions of the program,we believe some of those areas would have benefitted from a more comprehensive review and analysis.

“For example, the absence of substantive interviews of the current or former” officials.

To read full report click here.


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Comment from copper90
Time November 10, 2010 at 10:15 am

I am highly anticipating the report titled: DOJ IG conducts hundreds of useless inquiries that do nothing to better DOJ agencies. For the sake of DOJ OIG, maybe the ATF doesn’t share information with the Mexicans because the Mexican authorities are all criminals and any information shared might as well be information not obtained by ATF.

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