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Tag: tobacco

Des Moines Register: ATF Tobacco Investigation Schemes Is ‘Highly Questionable’

atf badgeBy Editorial Board
The Des Moines Register

It’s getting harder and harder to tell the good guys from the bad guys.

First there was the scandal involving federal agents who helped route guns to Mexican drug cartels. Then it was revealed that law enforcement officials nationwide have routinely abused forfeiture laws to seize the property of law-abiding citizens.

Now there are signs that agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives used highly questionable — arguably illegal – cigarette sales in order to fund a secret bank account used to pay informants.

And we’re not talking about a handful of rogue agents raising a few thousand dollars. The evidence points to tens of millions of dollars being raised by law enforcement officials through the same schemes used by the criminals they were supposed to be apprehending.

The operation, detailed in a recent report from the New York Times, wasn’t authorized by the Justice Department, the agency under which the ATF operates, and that appears to have been by design. It gave agents access to a bank account that, because it was off the books, wasn’t subject to the usual level of oversight.

The scheme itself was built on a complex series of transactions, some of which involved the sale and shipment of water and snacks disguised as cigarettes.

To read more click here. 

ATF, ICE, Local Police Bust $20M Tobacco Op

Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Got a smoke?

The ATF closed a three-year joint investigation by the US Attorney’s office for the Western District of Virginia and District of South Carolina, the ATF, the IRS, ICE and the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Department with multiple arrests in a scheme to move and tobacco illegally between Virginia and South Carolina, reports WYFF.

Indictments indicate that those involved acquired cigarettes in the western district of Virginia and brought them into South Carolina, where they were sold. Investigators told WYFF conspirators paid undercover officers about $20 million for untaxed cigarettes.

To read more, including the names and charges of the indicted, click here.

 

Watchdog Group Criticizes ATF For Not Doing Enough to Crack Down on Tobacco Sales Fraud

marlboro_fullBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) lacks coordination and is not doing nearly enough to crack down on the fraud involved in the distribution and sales of tobacco that amounts to more $5 billion in lost U.S.  taxes a year and is sometimes linked to terrorism and organized crime, according to a report by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General.

“ATF has placed a lower priority on its alcohol and tobacco diversion mission area compared with other mission areas involving firearms, arson and explosives,” the report said.

“We found that ATF’s diversion efforts are ad hoc , that ATF personnel we interviewed lacked a clear understanding of the scope of diversion activity across field divisions, and that ATF headquarters does not adequately support the field divisions’ diversion investigations.”

“In addition, we found that no systematic method exists to share intelligence or information specifically about diversion between the field and headquarters, which adds to ATF’s lack of knowledge of the overall level of diversion activity in the nation.”

Read more »