ATF as Incompetent (or Corrupt) with Tobacco as It Is with Firearms

An internal audit shows that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was incompetently (or, you know, intentionally) tossing out money and cigarettes left and right. CBS reports:

The Justice Department's internal watchdog says the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives mounted dozens of undercover investigations into illicit cigarette sales without proper approval. It says the agency misused some of $162 million in profits from the stings - including overpaying an informant by millions of dollars - and lost track of at least 420 million cigarettes.

The ATF's new director, B. Todd Jones, said the audit covered only selected ATF investigations between 2006 and 2011, and that the agency had tightened its internal guidelines since then.

The report cited a widespread lack of ATF oversight in the agency's use of "churning investigations," undercover operations using proceeds from illicit cigarette sales to pay for ATF expenses.

Unfortunately, CBS could barely show any interest or even challenge the idea that anybody actually “lost track” of anything before switching gears to allow the ATF to take control of the messaging again to complain about smuggling and demonstrate the failure to grasp black markets that have developed as a consequence of ludicrously high taxes:

"This is becoming the new organized crime, the new Prohibition," said ATF agent Rich Marianos. "Every day we see more and more criminal organizations utilizing illegal cigarettes to facilitate their operations."

In one sting, members of a Philadelphia street crew traded a bundle of marijuana for cartons of cigarettes to undercover agents posing as dealers.

The U.S. Justice Department estimates state and local governments are losing $5 billion per year from untaxed cigarettes being sold on the black market. Police know they're only catching a fraction of the smugglers.

Weak laws are big part of the problem. Unless guns or drugs are involved, smuggling penalties are light.

Insert your favorite Internet facepalm image here.

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  • Art Vandelay||

    "ATF as Incompetent (or Corrupt) with Tobacco as it is with Firearms"

    Inconceivable!

  • Hugh Akston||

    "This is becoming the new organized crime, the new Prohibition," said ATF agent Rich Marianos. "Every day we see more and more criminal organizations utilizing illegal cigarettes to facilitate their operations."

    Does anyone remember what the solution to Prohibition was?

  • SugarFree||

    Convictions based on hastily-enacted tax laws?

  • R C Dean||

    The Great Depression?

  • Agammamon||

    To require additives to alcohol to make it da tasting, foul smelling, and poisonous?

    After all, it was better that those people were blinded, crippled, or killed through consumption of denatured alcohol than they should do something disapproved of.

  • Paul.||

    Does anyone remember what the solution to Prohibition was?

    Yes, it involved prohibiting a bunch of other stuff but without a constitutional amendment because commerce clause.

    Oh wait.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Just think what could have been done by our benevolent government had they just interpreted the CC as Wickard did, but 150 years earlier?

  • SomeGuy||

    Well Washington and the Federalist even wrote the damn document and they were fucking it up in not even 2 years with the first national bank....we couldn't even make it 2 years before the document was getting pissed on :/

  • Marshall Gill||

    Does anyone remember what the solution to Prohibition was?

    You mean, "doesn't the government run indoctrination center teach the giant fallacy of chemical prohibition and it's horrible historical results?" To which the answer is HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!!!!!!

  • anon||

    "Every day we see more and more criminal organizations utilizing illegal cigarettes to facilitate their operations."

    I'd love to punch that motherfucker right in the throat. Then teabag him as he crumbles to the floor gasping for air.

  • DenverJay||

    "Does anyone remember what the solution to Prohibition was?"

    Was it: ignoring the 4th Amendment, busting down suspects' doors in the middle of the night, heavily (over)arming police and telling them that they are "soldiers", and abusing intelligence sources meant to protect the country from foreign threats?

  • R C Dean||

    the agency's use of "churning investigations," undercover operations using proceeds from illicit cigarette sales to pay for ATF expenses.

    I defy anyone to distinguish the ATF from an organized crime cartel. How is this not a description of the ATF?:

    "Every day we see more and more criminal organizations utilizing illegal cigarettes to facilitate their operations."

  • Paul.||

    They don't ride on the running boards or use Thompsons.

  • JeremyR||

    Extend that to pretty much every other police agency...

  • ||

    overpaying an informant by millions of dollars

    Sweet job -- if you can get it.

  • CE||

    My money's on "corrupt".

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    The U.S. Justice Department estimates state and local governments are losing $5 billion per year from untaxed cigarettes being sold on the black market.

    They are LOSING money they otherwise would have stolen.

    THE HUMANITY!

  • Pathogen||

    ^This^

    Talk about an entitlement mindset, mixed with the delicate art of pulling random numbers out of ones ass...

  • ||

    Never forget, all money belongs to the government, and whatever they let you keep is out of pure benevolence. The actual annual tax base for the government is 16 trillion dollars with 12 trillion of it being "lost" revenue that they graciously allowed us to keep.

  • Invisible Finger||

    If they're losing that much money they should get out of the business.

  • Invisible Finger||

    The states/locals could make up all that and more by just legalizing all sorts of other nearly-harmless products they've banned.

    But then organizations like the ATF would be losing the money.

    I really do want to see a bloody war between the government agencies.

  • Paul.||

    Slightly OT:

    Washington State Ministry of Marijuana Cultivation puts out five year plan:

    Average pot user consumes 123 joints per year, state estimates
    State officials expect the average pot user to smoke 123 joints a year. But joints may be obsolete soon, so the state projects that consumers will use an equal amount of pot-laced edibles and concentrates like hash oil.

    [...]

    The state’s consumption estimate is important because it drives licensing for pot production, including the number of growers and the size of their operations. Underestimating statewide consumption could hand customers to illicit dealers, according to state officials. Overestimating could lead to surplus weed being diverted to other states.

    This seems complex to me. It seems... it seems that there's some other method which could also be effective in making sure that supply meets demand. Anyone else, or is it just me?

    http://seattletimes.com/html/l.....onxml.html

  • Art Vandelay||

    A 6 year plan?

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Perhaps a 5-10 year government study, costing several million, could nail it down.

  • Paul.||

    Already underway.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    I was thinking of a second one.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Another data point couldn't hurt, right?

  • anon||

    Unless you're the IPCC.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    They don't need another model, they need a ... supermodel!

  • SweatingGin||

    Maybe they could set a cap on the amount of pot produced, and then allow trading of pot vouchers?

    If the average user smokes more than their estimates, some pot farmers will be subsidized, right?

  • Pathogen||

    "Maybe they could set a cap on the amount of pot produced, and then allow trading of pot vouchers?.."

    They've done it for years, the problem was that "Joe Six-pack" and the various rouge element, "un-authorized retailers" just never did get with that program...

  • anon||

    And sadly, this is exactly what's going to happen.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

    I'll bring the chips!

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    2chilly's on Garibaldi.

  • SweatingGin||

    NSA has the black budget. DEA has forfeiture. SEC has shakedowns. ATF sell ciggs. Probably made a few bucks on Fast and Furious, too.

    It's far worse than we thought, isn't it? Epi (I think) is always going on about how if we saw what level of corruption there was, even we'd be amazed. It really is worse than we imagine, isn't it? If you try to defund those, they switch to self supporting.

  • Irish||

    John McCain is a fucking moron.

    He actually said 'elections have consequences' in regards to the Ted Cruz filibuster.

    Why is it that statist shitheads only ever seem to think that the presidential election has consequences? Last I checked, Ted Cruz won an election the same day that Barack Obama did.

    Why is McCain even still calling himself a Republican? Isn't he just a Democrat that likes to bomb things at this point?

  • Calidissident||

    "Why is McCain even still calling himself a Republican? Isn't he just a Democrat that likes to bomb things at this point?"

    In other words, a Republican?

  • Hugh Akston||

    McCain's a Maverick, dude. Which means he'll get down on his knees and lick the balls of whoever occupies the White House.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Shame he didn't win the presidency.

  • Agammamon||

    Probably would have broke his own back by then end of the first week.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Would he be his own circle jerk?

  • Almanian!||

    He is pretty much King of the Dumbfucks. I'm sure his parents would be proud.

  • ||

    "John McCain is a fucking moron."

    Thanks for not warning me but luckily I was already sitting down for that.

  • Irish||

    Every time I start a subthread about John McCain, I begin it with "John McCain is a fucking moron."

    I don't even do it on purpose. It's just kind of a reflex.

  • anon||

    John McCain is a fucking moron.

    Well, he really is the only man that can make Obama look smart.

  • ||

    Yeah, well, McCain "fucking hates Ted Cruz, so what do you expect?

  • anon||

    That's ok, I fucking hate John McCain too.

  • Invisible Finger||

    John McCain is a fucking moron.

    This is how the VC are getting back at us.

  • Caligula||

    OT: The sugar-sweet statist tears on NPR comments boards as a result of Cruz's performance on the senate floor has brought a ray of sunshine into my life.

    Given Mr. Cruz's professed concern over the cost of government, a good question would be how much his 21+ hour pseudo-filibuster cost the taxpayers?

    Cruz v. Paul? Now that's a race to the bottom.

    Never in my life have I seen or heard a more self-serving, smug and arrogant politician. Good luck America if you let this guy be President.

  • Irish||

    Never in my life have I seen or heard a more self-serving, smug and arrogant politician. Good luck America if you let this guy be President.

    You mean other than the current occupant of the White House?

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    Careful Irish, applying those words to the Anointed One is racist.

  • sarcasmic||

    Given Mr. Cruz's professed concern over the cost of government, a good question would be how much his 21+ hour pseudo-filibuster cost the taxpayers?

    Sad thing is, that's how government bureaucrats think. They don't care or understand that he's getting paid anyway. So they take that time he spent, divide it into his salary, and then view it as a cost. Had he gone home and jerked off it would have cost the same, but they don't see it that way. His jerking off would have cost nothing because he wasn't doing anything. But his speaking is a cost. Though he would be paid either way. I know. It's weird. But that's how bureaucrats think.

  • ||

    That's silly, sarcasmic. I'm sure he's just worried about how much keeping the lights on and telling the Ukrainian cleaning ladies that they have to wait until he finishes to vacuum the room will cost.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    We're still talking about jacking off, right?

  • ||

    Vacuuming is important in the Senate chambers. While reasonable people may debate whether the fine gray powder that Carl Levin, Orrin Hatch, and Diane Feinstein ejaculate under their desks after masturbating furiously* is dust from the wings of moths or is simply grave dust and cobwebs, all agree that the dust must be vacuumed up immediately lest it be ground into the carpet and become a nuisance.

    *many note the sound of rustling leaves in autumn when these Senators sit together and have a circle jerk

  • anon||

    Are you saying "That's how you get ants?"

  • ||

    Actually senatorial ejaculate has been scientifically proven to kill insects that encounter it. If you ever have a terrible ant infestation just sprinkle some around your doorways. Unfortunately it's also been shown to cause mesothelioma in pets and humans.

  • anon||

    What DC politicians don't understand is that I'd be very happy if they all got paid to do absolutely nothing, because everything they do they manage to fuck up anyways.

  • Invisible Finger||

    This is 21 hours the government DIDN'T spend fucking up anything else.

    Sounds like SAVINGS to me.

  • Tejicano||

    "Never in my life have I seen or heard a more self-serving, smug and arrogant politician. "

    Holy Fucking Sky-Daddy... He can say this without immediately thinking of the current resident of the oval office?

  • Boisfeuras||

    Given Mr. Cruz's professed concern over the cost of government, a good question would be how much his 21+ hour pseudo-filibuster cost the taxpayers?

    WTF. Does this retard not understand what a salary is?

    Or does he envision congress critters punching in and out at the Rayburn Building like Homer Simpson?

  • SweatingGin||

    Senators need overtime.

    And $15 per hour.

    Oh wow. How great of a troll would it be to try to unionize congress? "You can't vote for the opposition, Pelosi has seniority and can't be fired."

  • General Butt Naked||

    Great. How much are we paying for these stunts, while nothing gets done? Filibustering shouldn't be allowed, period.

    Oh man, I can't wait to see if skippy here will think the same thing when the brave dems filibuster against the evil rethuglicans.

    A lot of the commenters seem to be disappointed that Cruz's filibuster meant that there wasn't "real" legislatin' goin' on. What kind of fucking idiot gets sad at the thought of politicians not doing stuff? Gawd. We're fucking fucked to the fucking max, dudes.

  • SweatingGin||

    Surely a post office needs renaming!

  • Ted S.||

    They all need renaming into other businesses.

  • SweatingGin||

    "Going Postal Guns (an independent franchisee of the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Corporation)"

  • Boisfeuras||

    Wasting congressional time is a grave offense. They should be doing important business like....

    Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the Greater Washington Soap Box Derby

    To redesignate the Dryden Flight Research Center as the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center and the Western Aeronautical Test Range as the Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautical Test Range

    To provide for the establishment of the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia

    To amend subtitle D of the Solid Waste Disposal Act to encourage recovery and beneficial use of coal combustion residuals and establish requirements for the proper management and disposal of coal combustion residuals that are protective of human health and the environment

    To designate the air traffic control center located in Nashua, New Hampshire, as the Patricia Clark Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center

    To designate the new Interstate Route 20 bridge over the Mississippi River connecting St. Louis, Missouri, and southwestern Illinois as the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge
  • JJ Thompson||

    If the Mexican government "lost track" of 420 million cigarettes it would have been called an indictment against the Mexican government and how extraordinarily corrupt it is.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Fumar and furious...

  • Tejicano||

    More like "Dumb and Delirious"..

  • Nooge.||

    lost track of at least 420 million cigarettes

    Look, the scourge of illegal Mexican tobacco isn't gonna propagate itself.

  • anon||

    Ok fuckers quit breaking my browser!

  • Killazontherun||

    In a sane world their next office party would be held in a compound in Waco, and then you can guess what happens next.

    I'm fine with Godwinning this one.

    Heh #Godwinning!

  • Killazontherun||

    BTW, is Twitter just an updating of old IRC concepts? Of course, I could just google it but what fun is that?

  • anon||

    But you have to be logged in to IRC, and it's relatively untraceable. How do you expect the NSA to know who's saying what if not for twatter?

  • anon||

    In a sane world, we'd have nuked DC already.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Who's fuckin up Reasonable now?

    Oh, it's Suthenboy.

  • Ted S.||

    As I said last night, now you all know how I feel. ;-)

  • ||

    Aren't you on Opera? I thought the gutted it and folded in Chrome innards. You can probably use Reasonable.

  • ||

  • Ivoted4KODOS||

    What is 'reasonable'? (Excuse my ignorance, but I am to technology what Jeramiah Johnson was to civilization)

  • ||

    Reasonable is a plugin for Chrome (which should now be cross compatible with Opera) that makes navigating H&R much easier. It highlights new posts since your last refresh, gives you a list of the most recent posts, and can force inline youtube video and jpg images.

    Currently something is wrong with public email handling so that the post history box covers the whole bottom of the screen with gibberish, but it's still much better than not using anything.

  • Dread Pirate Roberts||

    I did a back of the envelope calculation and found that 420,000,000 cigarettes will fit neatly into a cube that is 43 feet on each side. Must have slipped under the couch at ATF headquarters.

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