In another black eye for the beleaguered agency that regulates guns and investigates tobacco trafficking, a new report found that federal agents lost track of 2.1 million cartons of cigarettes and paid an informant more than $4.9 million without requiring him to account for his expenses.
“We found a significant lack of oversight and controls to ensure that cash, cigarettes, equipment and other assets used . . . were accurately tracked, properly safeguarded and protected from misuse,” Michael E. Horowitz, the Department of Justice’s inspector general, said in a 68-page report released Wednesday.
The inspector general’s office examined 20 undercover operations by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in which the agency generated $162 million in income as it attempted to build cases against cigarette smugglers. The investigations were conducted between 2006 and 2011.
In 2004, ATF was granted the same authority held by the FBI and DEA to use proceeds generated from some investigations to offset operational expenses.