ATF’s cigarette stings had ‘serious lack of oversight,’ audit finds


John Diedrich
Journal Sentinel
Sept. 25, 2013

The ATF’s cigarette-selling stings, like one done in Milwaukee in 2011, were fraught with problems, from misuse of proceeds to millions of dollars in missing cigarettes, according to a scathing audit issued Wednesday by the Department of Justice’s inspector general.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s review “found a serious lack of oversight” by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in conducting its cigarette-selling undercover operations, also known as churning investigations because they generate income that the agency spends on the operations.

In the stings, undercover ATF agents pose as rogue cigarette salesmen, selling cases of unstamped, untaxed cigarettes to store owners and others.

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