The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives couldn’t account for more than 2.1 million cartons of cigarettes purchased for undercover investigations between 2006 and 2011, the Justice Department’s inspector general concluded in an audit released last week.
“We also found a material lack of oversight and controls to ensure that cash, cigarettes, equipment and other assets ... were accurately tracked, properly safeguarded and protected from misuse,” the IG said.
According to ATF agents cited in the report, several factors made it difficult to keep track of tobacco, including such practices as giving cartons of cigarettes to criminal targets as samples. In a written response to the audit, the bureau’s director, B. Todd Jones, acknowledged “inadequate documentation,” but said that a more thorough ATF analysis was able to account for all but approximately 447,000 cartons. More broadly, the bureau has been working since 2011 to tighten up procedures for investigations, Jones said.