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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
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About Houston Field Division

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Welcome to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Houston Field Division website. The Houston Division includes all of Southern Texas from Del Rio, San Antonio, Waco and Austin over to Beaumont and down to Corpus Christi, McAllen and Laredo. Our dedicated employees are special agents, investigators, auditors, technicians and support staff.

ATF Houston is committed to reducing violent crime in our neighborhoods. We accomplish this by targeting specific criminal organizations, gun traffickers and violent offenders utilizing ATF’s Frontline Strategy.
Explosives and arson enforcement is an integral part of ATF’s overall violent crime reduction strategy. ATF Houston special agents combat arson and explosives-related crimes by conducting independent investigations and by working in partnership with local and state fire investigators and police bomb squads.

ATF also has the duty of regulating the firearms and explosives industries. Our industry operations investigators work to ensure that all firearms and explosives are stored, handled and sold in a safe manner according to law.
Since Houston is the number one origination point of firearms recovered in crimes in Mexico, firearms trafficking is an investigative priority. Through our excellent relationship with firearms dealers and our intelligence-based investigations, firearms traffickers and straw purchasers are targeted. Our Industry operations investigators also educate our firearms dealers to recognize straw purchasers in firearms seminars given around the State.

We encourage all residents to get involved and assist us in our goal of reducing crime in our communities.

Robert W. Elder


Robert W. Elder

Robert W. Elder

Special Agent in Charge
Houston Field Division

Robert Elder was selected in August 2013 as the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Houston Field Division for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). He is responsible for ATF operations throughout southeastern Texas.

ATF is a key law enforcement agency within the U. S. Department of Justice that protects our communities from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use and storage of explosives, trafficking of firearms, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism, and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products. The men and women of ATF perform the dual responsibilities of enforcing Federal criminal laws and regulating the firearms and explosives industries to protect against crime, violence, and other threats to public safety.

Prior to this assignment, SAC Elder served as Chair of ATF’s Professional Review Board, ensuring that allegations of employee misconduct were handled lawfully, fairly and consistently. He also determined if misconduct occurred what disciplinary or adverse action was warranted. Previous assignments include ATF’s Internal Affairs Division, and twice serving as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Houston Field Division. SAC Elder served at ATF National Headquarters as the Chief of the Special Operations Division, responsible the Special Response Teams, Polygraph Branch, Special Events, Undercover Branch, and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force operations. SAC Elder has also served as a Team Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s National Response Team. He began his career with ATF in 1987 in Des Moines, Iowa, where he was a special agent for 5 years. He was later promoted to Resident Agent in Charge in Beaumont, Texas, when it first became an ATF field office.

Before his career with ATF, SAC Elder was a police officer with the St. Louis County Missouri Police Department, where he worked as a patrol officer and as a Detective in the Narcotics Division. He received his Bachelor’s of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Southeast Missouri State University. SAC Elder’s other training programs include various leadership and crisis management programs and graduation from the FBI National Academy. SAC Elder has received numerous performance awards including the ATF Hostile Action Award in 1993 and the Federal Officer of the Year in Jefferson County, MO in 1994.