It’s no secret many of the firearms used by Mexican drug trafficking organizations are purchased in the US. The Department of Justice launched “Project Gunrunner” in 2005 to crack down on weapons smuggling to Mexico. At the forefront of the effort is the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – or ATF.
The 138-page report released Tuesday by the Department of Justice Inspector General has found that “significant weaknesses in ATF’s implementation of Project Gunrunner undermine its effectiveness.” These weaknesses include a low level of intelligence sharing between the ATF and other US and Mexican law enforcement agencies, an emphasis on investigating small-time “straw purchasers” over large trafficking networks, and the bureau’s failure to expand its gun tracing program in Mexico.
The report also found that the lack of reporting requirements for rifle sales has hindered investigations.
The Justice Department made 15 specific recommendations to the ATF for improving Project Gunrunner. Among them, strengthening the crime gun tracing initiative that is supposedly the cornerstone of the operation.