MOVES TO THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
WASHINGTON - The newly
named Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) officially
moved to the Department of Justice today, integrating and enhancing the
federal government's law enforcement operations.
The move comes as
a result of the Homeland Security Bill signed by President Bush last November
25. The legislation split the Bureau into two entities, and the Alcohol
and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau will remain at Treasury and continue
to regulate and collect revenue from the alcohol and tobacco industries.
"On behalf of
the Department of Justice, allow me to be the first to welcome you to
our team," Attorney General John Ashcroft said in a memorandum to
ATF employees. "Your reputation as highly skilled law enforcement
professionals is well recognized among your peers in the law enforcement
community, and by the public in general. I am pleased for the opportunity
to work with you."
ATF Director Bradley
A. Buckles, a veteran of 28 years with the agency, said, "On this
day, ATF looks backward in closing the final chapter in its history of
honorable service. It looks forward at the same time to beginning a new
history, one whose first chapter will be written by some 4,600 special
agents, inspectors, regulatory specialists, forensic auditors and laboratory
The Bureau, he added,
"appreciates the cooperative and gracious reception it has received
from Attorney General Ashcroft and his team during the two-month transition.
We look forward to a long and successful working relationship with our
fellow law enforcement organizations within Justice."
ATF has worked in
close cooperation with the Justice Department for many years, including
many investigations of federal gun crimes. Following the attacks of September
11, members of the ATF have served on the 93 Anti-Terrorism Task Forces
located across the country.
Under the Justice
Department, the ATF will continue to perform the law enforcement functions
relating to firearms, explosives, and arson. It will also administer the
U.S. Criminal Code provisions concerning alcohol and tobacco smuggling
The move to Justice brings to a close a 200-year history at the Treasury
Department that dates back to the collection of the first excise tax imposed
on distilled spirits in 1791, and includes the breakup of the "Whisky
Ring" of the 1870s, the exploits of the "Untouchables"
during Prohibition, and the investigation of the Washington-area sniper
case last year.
Since becoming a separate
bureau within the Treasury Department in 1972, ATF has served a unique
role. It has been a law enforcement agency that apprehended armed, violent
criminals, bombers, and arsonists, and also collected taxes since alcohol,
tobacco, firearms, and ammunition are all taxable commodities. The Bureau
was a regulator of the legal alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives
industries, exercising oversight, issuing regulations, and helping those
industries voluntarily comply with government guidelines.
As the move becomes
final, the ATF is committed to providing the highest levels of service
to the industry and the public.
ATF is the world's
leading investigative agency on firearms, explosives and arson, providing
that expertise to the Federal and state, local and foreign governments.
The Bureau administers and enforces the Federal laws and regulations relating
to firearms, explosives and arson. ATF's 4,700 men and women serve to
protect the American public and reduce violent crime. More information
about ATF and its programs is available on the Internet at www.atf.gov.