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ATF is apparently as inept at managing tobacco as it is firearms

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(Image: AFT/Wikimedia)

The ATF became something of a punchline after the sordid details of its Mexican gun-running Fast & Furious operation started coming to light. Now, there's this:

Government agents acting without authorization conducted dozens of undercover investigations of illegal tobacco sales, misused some of $162 million in profits from the stings and lost track of at least 420 million cigarettes, the Justice Department's inspector general said Wednesday.

In one case, agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sold $15 million in cigarettes and later turned over $4.9 million in profits from the sales to a confidential informant — even though the agency did not properly account for the transaction.

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

The audit described widespread lack of ATF oversight and inadequate paperwork in the agency's "churning investigations," undercover operations that use proceeds from illicit cigarette sales to pay for the ATF's costs...

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