In another black eye for the beleaguered agency that regulates guns and investigates tobacco trafficking, a new report found that federal agents lost track of 2.1 million cartons of cigarettes and paid an informant more than $4.9 million without requiring him to account for his expenses, reports the Washington Post. An investigation by Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general, “found a significant lack of oversight and controls.”
The inspector general's office examined 20 undercover operations by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in which the agency generated $162 million in income as it attempted to build cases against cigarette smugglers. In 2004, ATF was granted the same authority as the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration to use proceeds generated from some investigations to offset operational expenses. Horowitz said that in one case, the ATF could also not account for 2.1 million cartons of cigarettes, valued at more than $127 million, purchased for the investigations. An ATF spokeswoman said the numbers are inaccurate.