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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives


Contacts: Andrew L. Lluberes/Sheree L. Mixell


For Immediate Release

June 2, 2005


Two-Week Course Part of Effort to Share Expertise Internationally

BOGOTA, Colombia – The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has begun a two-week explosives training course for members of Colombian law enforcement.

Thirty students from the Colombian Attorney General’s Office, Colombian National Police, Federal Police and Coroner’s Office are taking the ATF International Post-Blast Investigation course, which includes training in improvised explosive devices, post-blast scene investigation, forensic lab reconstruction, bomber motivation and investigative leads, a practical exercise at an explosives ordnance range, bomb threat management and country case studies.

A five-man team of ATF special agents certified as explosives specialists, an explosives training specialist/hazardous devices technician, and a forensic chemist are teaching the May 30-June 10 course, funded by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program. ATF joined DOJ in January 2003 as part of the homeland security reorganization of the U.S. government.

The explosives training is part of the assistance and cooperation ATF’s Attache Office, part of the U.S. Embassy here, has offered Colombia over the past three years.

Since 2002, ATF Bogota has helped Colombian law enforcement trace more than 12,000 firearms recovered from both narco-traffickers and the three terrorist groups that operate in Colombia. The traces have led to 75 leads identifying potential traffickers being sent to ATF field offices in the United States for investigation.

ATF has provided extensive firearms tracing/identification training to numerous investigative groups throughout Colombia and has hosted a national firearms trafficking conference. Additionally, ATF provides training to various ballistic groups that manage the three Integrated Ballistic Identification System (IBIS) machines in Bogota; IBIS is the software that allows law enforcement to image and compare crime gun evidence.

ATF Bogota has promoted a cooperative relationship between the sole licensed firearms dealer in Colombia and Colombian firearms and explosives investigators. When a firearm sold by the dealer is recovered, or explosives manufactured in Colombia are recovered, ATF has established a protocol whereby investigators can do their own “in house” tracing or investigations.

ATF, which also has jurisdiction for investigating major fire incidents and arson in the United States, developed the arson program in Colombia. Prior to 2004, there were no arson investigators in Colombia; since then, two ATF-led basic arson courses have trained 36 arson investigators throughout the country.

In the area of explosives assistance, ATF has trained and help establish 76 Colombian investigative bomb squads since 2002, provided equipment such as robots and radio frequency jammers, and is working with the Colombian Ministry of Defense to design an explosives inspection model based on ATF’s regulatory mission. Colombia, which lost six to seven of its bomb techs in attacks every year, has lost only one since 2002.

As a result of the ATF-Colombia partnership, Colombia was one of the first four countries – with Britain, Mexico and the United States – to join Dfuze, a comprehensive international and national information management system on explosives incidents that ATF developed to manage and promote the sharing of information among participating members and national bomb data centers worldwide.

Colombia will break ground later this year on an Explosives Information and Firearms Tracing Center (CIARA) that will include Dfuze, an explosives repository, national response bomb squad and firearms tracing system that will be hooked into IBIS.

Five regional bomb centers, the first to open at the end of this month, are slated for the cities of Cali, Barranquilla, Medellin, Neiva and Arauca and will be linked to CIARA.

ATF’s international training includes the explosives training it currently provides the Iraqi Police Service, and the ongoing explosives and firearms training done at the three International Law Enforcement Academies maintained by the U.S. State Department in Hungary, Botswana and Thailand.

More information on ATF and its programs is at


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