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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

Self Description

June 2006: "Effective January 24, 2003, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) was transferred under the Homeland Security bill to the Department of Justice. The law enforcement functions of ATF under the Department of the Treasury were transferred to the Department of Justice. The tax and trade functions of ATF will remain in the Treasury Department with the new Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

In addition, the agency's name was changed to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to reflect it new mission in the Department of Justice."

October 2002: "The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is a law enforcement agency within the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Its unique responsibilities include protecting the public, reducing violent crime, and collecting revenue. ATF enforces the Federal laws and regulations relating to alcohol, tobacco products, firearms, explosives, and arson."

Third-Party Descriptions

July 2013: "Toward the end of the 2000s there were hints that the public was beginning to want a change, though that desire could manifest in unexpected ways. A former colleague at the Cato Institute, Tim Lynch, has told me that when he gives talks about the Waco raid, he finds that people are somewhat sympathetic to the argument that the government overreacted, but that they still can’t get past the weirdness of the Branch Davidians themselves—their stockpile of weapons and the claims of sexual abuse and drug distribution in the community. Even the children who died are sometimes dismissed with guilt by association. But when he mentions that the ATF agents killed the Davidians’ dogs, Lynch tells me, people become visibly angry. I have found the same thing to be true in my reporting on drug raids."

February 2010: 'The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is asking the court for an order divulging historical (meaning stored, not future) phone location information because a set of suspects "use their wireless telephones to arrange meetings and transactions in furtherance of their drug trafficking activities." It's unclear how detailed this stored information is; there's some evidence that the FBI can use it to narrow down the location to a city block but perhaps not an individual house.'

June 2009: 'He's still employed by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in an Arizona office job, but it's clear the agency has had enough of his Serpico bit, the whole Donnie Brasco thing. Dobyns is the best-selling author of this year's "No Angel," a taut, profane tome about how he worked his way into the Arizona chapter of the world's most notorious motorcycle gang, and sure, the movie rights have already sold.'

March 2008: "Domenech said his ATF field office collects the serial numbers of all guns seized by police and tries to determine how the weapons ended up in the District -- often the first step in a gun-trafficking case."

February 2007: Jay Dobyns works for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the federal agency responsible for enforcing the nation's gun laws. His deep undercover work with the Hells Angels from 2001-2003 ultimately helped bring the indictment and trial of 16 gang members and their associates.


RoleNameTypeLast Updated
Owned by (partial or full, past or present) Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Organization Jun 19, 2006
Owned by (partial or full, past or present) Treasury Department/Department of the Treasury Organization May 12, 2004
Organization Head/Leader (past or present) Michael J. Sullivan Esq. Person Feb 5, 2007
Organization Head/Leader (past or present) Carl J. Truscott Person Jun 19, 2006
Opponent (past or present) Randy Weaver Person Jan 7, 2006

Articles and Resources

Date Resource Read it at:
Jul 07, 2013 “Why did you shoot me? I was reading a book”: The new warrior cop is out of control

QUOTE: It wasn’t even the first time a Virginia SWAT team had killed someone during a gambling raid.....Police have justified this sort of heavy-handedness by claiming that people who run illegal gambling operations tend to be armed, a blanket characterization that absurdly lumps neighborhood Hold ’Em tournaments with Uncle Junior Soprano’s weekly poker game. And in any case, if police know that people inside an establishment are likely to be armed, it makes even less sense to come in with guns blazing. Police have also defended the paramilitary tactics by noting that poker games are usually flush with cash and thus tend to get robbed. That too is an absurd argument, unless the police are afraid they’re going to raid a game at precisely the same moment it’s getting robbed. Under either scenario, the police are acknowledging that the people playing poker when these raids go down have good reason to think that the men storming the place with guns may be criminals, not cops.

Aug 25, 2011 In Echo of Pancho Villa, Modern Raid Shakes a Town on the Edge of Extinction

QUOTE: Ninety-five years and a day after the infamous Villa raid, another group of armed men crept into Columbus [New Mexico]....They led away in handcuffs Columbus’s mayor, police chief, village trustee and numerous others accused of smuggling guns, ammunition and body armor across the border to Mexican outlaws.

New York Times
Feb 13, 2010 Justice Dept. defends warrantless cell phone tracking

QUOTE: The FBI and other police agencies don't need to obtain a search warrant to learn the locations of Americans' cell phones, the U.S. Department of Justice told a federal appeals court in Philadelphia on Friday.

Oct 07, 2009 Investigators Document Repeat Illegal Sales at Gun Shows

QUOTE: Undercover investigators working on behalf of the New York City mayor's office repeatedly bought guns from unlicensed dealers at gun shows even though they disclosed they probably couldn't pass a background check.

Washington Post
Jun 21, 2009 Undercover No More, Jay Dobyns Revs Up For a Different Fight

QUOTE: [Jay Dobyns] filed two suits against the ATF, charging the agency with failing to protect him from years of death threats from bad men on big bikes. The U.S. Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General issued a report last year that said he was right -- that the agency had failed to move him and his family with their identities protected, that the ATF's response to one death threat was "inadequate, incomplete and needlessly delayed," that they had reached dismissive conclusions about the threats "without adequate investigation," and so on.

Washington Post
Apr 14, 2009 U.S. Stymied as Guns Flow to Mexican Cartels (War Without Borders: A Paradoxical Struggle)

QUOTE: The federal system for tracking gun sales, crafted over the years to avoid infringements on Second Amendment rights, makes it difficult to spot suspicious trends quickly and to identify people buying for smugglers, law enforcement officials say.

New York Times
Mar 17, 2008 Fighting Gun Traffickers Involves Lots of Legwork, a Little Luck

QUOTE: Firearms traffickers...profit in an underground economy that has bustled for decades in the District, regardless of the city's long-debated prohibition on handgun ownership, one of the toughest gun-control laws in the nation.

Washington Post
Jan 14, 2008 Wesley Snipes to Go on Trial in Tax Case

QUOTE: [Wesley] Snipes, who is scheduled to go on trial Monday in Ocala, Fla., has become an unlikely public face for the antitax movement, whose members maintain that Americans are not obligated to pay income taxes and that the government extracts taxes from its citizens illegally.

New York Times
Mar 02, 2007 'Embarrassed' Gun Suspect Sues Microsoft After FBI Finds Sex Videos On His PC: Despite efforts to keep the data private, FBI lab agents were able to access the files by making a mirror image

QUOTE: Michael Alan Crooker, currently in jail in Connecticut, says security features advertised by Microsoft and its business partners should have kept federal agents from accessing the files on his PC. In court papers filed this week in Massachusetts Superior Court, Crooker says he "suffered great embarrassment" as a result of Microsoft's failure to keep the FBI's prying eyes off his computer.

Feb 05, 2007 Federal agent penetrated Hells Angels, fears for his life

QUOTE: With his undercover work done and his real identity as a law enforcement agent exposed, Dobyns says the Hells Angels and other gangs enlisted by it came after him, issuing death threats. Dobyns claims that the ATF -- rather than protecting him -- abandoned him.

CNN (Cable News Network)
Dec 26, 2006 Justice Dept. Database Stirs Privacy Fears: Justice Dept. Database Stirs Privacy Fears

QUOTE: The Justice Department is building a massive database that allows state and local police officers around the country to search millions of case files from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal law enforcement agencies, according to Justice officials. The system, known as "OneDOJ,"...

Washington Post
Jun 16, 2006 House Panel Backs ATF Fee, at a Discount

QUOTE: The House Appropriations Committee approved a new fee for manufacturing and importing explosives this week...the explosives and mining industries oppose the idea as a de facto tax increase.

Washington Post
Jul 27, 2004 Report: Gun Sales to Restricted Buyers Rarely Prosecuted

QUOTE: Thousands of people legally ineligible to buy firearms have been able to buy guns anyway, and few have been prosecuted by the Justice Department for the unlawful purchases, according to a federal report...

Washington Post
Aug 25, 2003 Old ID Card Gives New Status to Mexicans in U.S.

QUOTE: This summer, Indianapolis and seven other Midwestern cities started accepting an identity card issued by the Mexican government, offering Mexicans who are here illegally a startlingly new sense of legitimacy.

New York Times
Oct 16, 2002 Bush Questions Gun Tracking's Usefulness: White House Challenges ATF Study That Says Ballistic Fingerprinting Helps Solve Crimes

QUOTE: Last night, the White House said domestic policy aides had met with ATF officials (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) and asked them to have the agency's experts look into whether a national database would be an effective crime-fighting tool.

Washington Post
Oct 15, 2002 Gun Dealer's Case Reaches High Court

QUOTE: The case...indirectly raises the most hotly debated question in gun control law today: Does the Second Amendment create an individual right to have a gun?

Washington Post