Crime

ATF Fights Cigarette Smuggling by Smuggling Cigarettes! Don't Cops Have Better Things to Do?!

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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, (and Explosives!) has been fighting cigarette smuggling by smuggling cigarettes. Agents buy smokes in low-tax states like Virginia and sell them in high-tax states like New York. The sting operations are supposed to help build cases against smugglers, but ATF is cashing in too.

By law ATF may keep booty to cover "operational expenses." As if the line between law breakers and law enforcers wasn't blurry enough already, a recent inspector general report highlights a "serious lack of oversight" at the agency. Seems that confidential informants have been allowed to pocket, not expenses, but profits amounting to millions of dollars. ATF agents have "misused" $162 million in sting operation profits and "lost track" of $420 million cigarettes. (Yes, this is the same ATF that lost more than a thousand weapons during the infamous Fast and Furious fiasco.) And if you're having trouble distinguishing the "good" guys from the "bad" guys, just remember: The "good" guys are the ones who get taxpayer-funded salaries and pensions.

But hey, don't federal agents have better things to do! Well, ATF's own most-wanted list features men suspected of crimes like murder, so yeah, agents could focus more time busting violent criminals. Then again, cigarette smuggling is so much more lucrative!

Just under two minutes.

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"Don't Cops Have Better Things to Do?" is written and directed by Ted Balaker (@tedbalaker). Producer is Matt Edwards (@MattChrisEd). Opening motion graphics by Meredith Bragg. Camera by Zach Weissmueller. Music by audionautix.com and "The Contessa" is by Maurice and the Beejays (Magnatune Records).