Thursday, February 23, 2017

Looks like the ATF is at it again

We all remember the BATFE's 'Operation Fast and Furious'.  So far, its 'score' includes two dead Federal law enforcement officers, several hundred dead Mexican nationals, and who knows how many lives ruined by their loss.  Now it looks like at another arm of the BATFE went so far as to fund their operations off-budget, evading Congressional oversight, by creaming off the profits from an illegal cigarette marketing operation.

Working from an office suite behind a Burger King in southern Virginia, operatives used a web of shadowy cigarette sales to funnel tens of millions of dollars into a secret bank account. They weren’t known smugglers, but rather agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The operation, not authorized under Justice Department rules, gave agents an off-the-books way to finance undercover investigations and pay informants without the usual cumbersome paperwork and close oversight, according to court records and people close to the operation.

The secret account is at the heart of a federal racketeering lawsuit brought by a collective of tobacco farmers who say they were swindled out of $24 million. A pair of A.T.F. informants received at least $1 million each from that sum, records show.

The scheme relied on phony shipments of snack food disguised as tobacco. The agents were experts: Their job was to catch cigarette smugglers, so they knew exactly how it was done.

There's more at the link.

Would someone please tell me why the BATFE should not be designated a rogue agency, out of control, and the entire damned operation shut down once and for all?  It seems to be a living definition of Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy.  If President Trump is looking for ways to cut costs in the federal government, I suggest that 99 New York Avenue, NE in Washington DC would be an excellent starting point.



deb harvey said...

i don't understand the government interest in tobacco at all.
for the most part most federal agencies need to be done away with or cut back to their original purposes.
for example, the fda needs many more inspectors for food safety and less clerical jobs.
some agencies can be useful, customs for instance, but others [department of education] need to be excised.

i hate recaptcha. i often cannot get through it.

Old NFO said...

Yep, another rogue operation and now that the sunshine is penetrating, they've got the IRS coming down on those who've opened that door... sigh

Glenn B said...


The government's interest in tobacco was and remains purely a financial interest. They realized early on that tobacco was addictive (or at least that it was something folks would continue to use) and jumped on the band wagon to tax what was killing Americans in droves. I believe they knew full well that people were hopelessly hooked on coffin nails while they, the politicians, laughed on the way to the bank.

All the best,
Glenn B.

C. S. P. Schofield said...

I have just had an ugly suspicion; is it possible that one of the reasons that the BATF(E) has been allowed to go on blundering its way through recent history is that it is valuable as a place to dump cowboys and imbeciles from other agencies?

Peter (not our gracious Host) said...

The reason to keep the ATF is simple: their incompetence (etc.) is well known, and so long as they're the Agency tasked with firearms enforcement, we stand a chance against the might and weight of the Federal government. Dissolve the BATFE, and firearms enforcement goes to the FBI, which still maintains a much better reputation. That will be a much harder nut to crack.