ATF Snapshot 2000
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. Also, ATF prides itself for being instrumental in:
- Suppressing and preventing crime and violence through enforcement, regulation, and community outreach.
- Ensuring fair and effective revenue collection.
- Providing fair and effective industry regulation.
- Supporting and assisting Federal, State, local, and foreign law enforcement agencies.
- Providing innovative training programs in support of enforcement and regulatory functions.
ATF's jurisdiction and specialized expertise applied through enforcement, regulation, and community outreach is valuable to the public because of impact on firearms and explosives-related violence.
- ATF's Arson and Explosives Projects are directed toward preventing arson and the criminal misuse of explosives. ATF provides investigative expertise and vital resources to localcommunities after arson and explosives incidents. ATF, in part, measures its success by the amount it saves the public, such as the millions of dollars saved by exposing arson for profit schemes. In FY99 ATF forwarded 236 arson cases, with 369 defendants; for prosecution. From 1995-1999, while heading the National Church Arson Task Force ATF conducted 1,135 arson/bombing/attempted-bombing investigations nationwide at houses of worship, With a solve rate twice the national average for arson. In addition, ATF's Certified Fire Investigators investigated over 2,200 fire incidents. In FY99, ATF forwarded 154 explosives cases with 369 defendants for prosecution.
- The Armed Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (formerly Achilles) concentrates on identifying and removing the most dangerous armed career criminals and drug traffickers from our communities. Through the effective use of the federal firearms laws and mandatory sentencing, defendants are incarcerated for longer periods of time. This prevents their future involvement in crimes of violence and the costs associated with those crimes. In FY99, ATF forwarded 4,628 cases with 6,057 defendants for prosecution.
- Criminal Firearms Trafficking - No other agency features the interdependent assets that make ATF the most effective in addressing criminal firearms trafficking. These assets include investigative and regulatory expertise, technical/forensic services, public/industry education, statutory jurisdiction, and use of the National Tracing Center and Project Lead. ATF's Firearms Trafficking Program reduces armed violent crime by identifying and prosecuting individuals who are illegally supplying firearms to violent criminals, gang offenders, and youths. In FY99, it was estimated that 2,161 defendants were responsible for illegally trafficking 30,000 firearms (4,540 of these firearms were recovered in crimes).
- The National Tracing Center (NTC) is the only organization of its kind in the world. Firearms trace results are often the crucial piece of evidence that aids Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies in solving violent crimes. Through innovations in technology, the Center has substantially reduced the time it takes to conduct a firearms trace. The number of crime gun traces topped the 200,000 mark in 1999.
- ATF's Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative (YCGII) uses the expertise of our special agents, inspectors, local police, and the NTC to identify and investigate illegal sales of guns to youth/juveniles and to shut down traffickers. YCGII is funded and operating in 27 cities nationwide and in FY00 it will be expanded to 38 cities. It is anticipated YCGII will expand to 75 cities in the next few years.
- ATF protects the consumer by preventing false or misleading claims on alcohol beverage labels (over 68,000 labels reviewed each year), as well as ensuring the safe storage of explosive materials (ATF inspectors identified and resolved over 2,831 violations, 1,431 of which presented unsafe conditions in FY99).
- G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education and Training) is a school-based program designed to reduce gang involvement across our Nation. Specially trained agents and officers teach G.R.E.A.T. to students in nine classroom sessions. In FY99, G.R.E.A.T. officers around the country taught approximately 334,443 children. Since 1991, more than 1.8 million children in 50 States, 3 countries, and 5 provinces have participated.
- ATF's Firearms Licensing Program joins with state and local authorities to ensure that the 104,070 Federal Firearms Licensees operate in compliance with federal, state, and local laws.
ATF “Pays Its Own Way” through effective tax collection, regulation, and enforcement
- n FY99, with a budget of approximately $604.6 million, ATF collected approximately $12.1 billion in revenue. ATF investigated 106 illegal alcohol and tobacco diversion cases resulting in the seizure of nearly $1.4 million in assets. ATF was the lead agency in an investigation that resulted in a payment of $10 million to the Treasury Asset Forfeiture Fund.
ATF is known for establishing cooperative working relationships
- ATF also works task forces with other federal, state, and local agencies. Cases are developed for prosecution in the appropriate jurisdiction — federal or state.
- ATF's cooperative effort with other agencies proved instrumental in solving the World Trade Center and the Murrah Federal Building bombings. This team effort continues with ongoing investigations such as the Centennial Park bombing and the abortion clinic bombings in Atlanta and Birmingham.
- ATF sponsors industry seminars to communicate with and solicit the concerns of all. This team effort is being used by ATF as it leads the explosives study mandated by Congress in the 1997 Anti-Terrorism Bill.
ATF advances new and innovative methods to increase productivity and effectiveness
- Accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, ATF's National Laboratories and Forensic and Technical Services provide expertise in the areas of alcohol, firearms, explosives, and arson.
- Under the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN), ATF utilizes the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) a state of the art system that allows firearms technicians to digitize and automatically correlate and compare bullet and shell casing signatures. This system has proved very beneficial to state and local law enforcement agencies experiencing firearms related violence (nearly 168,000 bullet and casings were entered nationwide, resulting in 1,150 matches of ballistic evidence between multiple crime scenes). IBIS units are deployed in 70 cities nationwide and ATF will be converting the 150 Drugfire sites to IBIS within the next three years.
- ATF's Canine Detection Program has successfully developed a method of training canines to detect explosives, fire accelerants, and spent cartridge cases. In FY99, ATF certified 68 accelerant-detecting canines for state, and local agencies. Additionally, 26 canine teams were trained for the Department of State's, Office of Anti-Terrorism Assistance. There are 190 canine teams deployed in ten countries worldwide, eight of which are strategically placed in the United States.
- ATF is electronically linking its services with its nationwide users. Links from police departments and manufacturers to the National Tracing Center are increasing the speed and efficiency of firearm traces.
- ATF's Bomb Research Project is yielding important information relative to explosives signature, blast effect, post-blast problems, debris distance, and residue retrieval.
- ATF's 4 National Response Teams (NRTs) can respond within 24 hours to suspected bombing and arson scenes in the United States. These teams, which combine agents, explosive specialists, forensic scientists, and technical specialists, were activated on 42 occasions in FY99. At arson scenes, ATF also deploys cause and origin specialists, auditors, and specially trained canines. ATF's International Response Team (IRT), formed an agreement with the State Department, has been deployed 19 times in countries such as Peru, Argentina, Pakistan, El Salvador, Macedonia, Zambia, and Swaziland.
- ATF is advancing the use of computerized fire modeling to calculate the physics and functioning of fire. Computer modeling has proved successful in the courtroom to verify witness testimony.
- In 1996, Congress recognized ATF's expertise in the arson and explosives arena and passed legislation authorizing the Treasury Department to establish a National Repository of information on incidents involving arson and explosives. The Secretary directed ATF to carry out this mandate. The National Repository system should be in operation late in the year 2000.
ATF receives highest rating by Inspector General
For the last 5 years, the Treasury IG has awarded ATF the highest rating possible for a strong financial internal control structure and a solid record of complying with laws and regulations.