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ATF, ICE join forces to stop border gun traffic

  • Story Highlights
  • Congressional report criticizes agencies for failure to cooperate
  • Agencies pledge togetherness in keeping guns from crossing to Mexico
  • Officials say they are confident duplication, confusion between agencies will end
By Terry Frieden
CNN Justice Producer
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The two federal agencies most responsible for stemming the flow of firearms to Mexico agreed Tuesday to improve cooperation after they were sharply criticized by a congressional report for lack of coordination.

The agreement between Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will result in a more effective fight against the flood of U.S. weapons that provide Mexican drug cartels with more than 90 percent of their firearms. Top federal law enforcement officials were in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to sign documents pledging to work together.

The agreement is expected to result in increased seizures of trafficked weapons and more prosecutions and convictions, said David Ogden, the deputy attorney general.

But "it's hard to say when we'll see results," he added.

Ogden, along with ATF Director Ken Melson and John Morton, assistant secretary for ICE, expressed confidence the duplication and confusion between the agencies would end.

A report by the Government Accountability Office issued June 19 called for the agreement to be concluded. Read the GAO report

The report to Congress said the two agencies "do not consistently coordinate responsibilities and have been under an outdated interagency agreement. This has resulted in some instances of duplicate initiatives and confusion during operations."

The ATF is an arm of the Justice Department while the immigration agency is under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security.

Officials said they expect a major improvement in the sharing of information critical to law enforcement operations in the southwest border area.

The announcement comes as another turf battle heats up between the Homeland Security and Defense departments over controversial proposals to fund and deploy National Guard troops to help combat drug trafficking and associated violence along the Mexican border.

All About U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs EnforcementBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

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