This is a source for analysis, interviews, and commentary on security in Latin America. Herein you will find rumors, the results of off the record interviews, and information you'll not find in international or United States news media.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Bad Deal for ATF

Why then did the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement receive US$130 million to combat gun smuggling in a Senate bill designed to give a cash injection to security efforts on the border when the ATF only received US$50 million?

I'd like to meet the Staffer who came up with these numbers.

The agency that has the most expertise when it comes to investigating illegal weapons transfers from the white to the black market in the United States is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

Here's a breakdown (press release here):

* $130 million to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for 350 full time investigators to work on firearm trafficking and money laundering investigations;

* $20 million for DHS to improve the tactical communications in the field for CBP and ICE;

* $20 million for CBP to modernize its database used to identify potential criminals at the ports of entry;

* $30 million for Operation Stonegarden to reimburse state and local law enforcement for their participation in border actions;

* $50 million to the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency to hire an additional 150 investigators and 50 inspectors to investigate firearms trafficking at the Mexican border;

* $10 million to provide assistance and equipment to local law enforcement along the Southern border and in the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas to combat criminal narcotics activity;

* $20 million for the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center at DHS to better coordinate investigations between federal, state, and local law enforcement;

* $10 million for DHS’ Office of International Affairs and the Undersecretary for Management to oversee implementation of the Merida Initiative and to increase its staffing at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico.

Also, I see no provision to help the local sheriffs, or any wording that specifies that the federal government will work with local knowledge.

The ATF does receive some 200 new agents, but it will be at least 18 months before these agents are able to effectively contribute.

The ATF guys I know who work on the border will surely be happy to receive some funding, but they're likely to feel at least a little perturbed by what is clearly a Senate move to push Homeland Security onto their turf.

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