IG criticism of ATF border-related activities
"It said the ATF focuses largely on inspections of gun dealers and investigations of "straw purchasers," rather than on higher-level traffickers, smugglers and the ultimate recipients of the trafficked guns."
The point is likely that ATF is adhering to its decades-long customary approach: see if you can bust a gun dealer or an illegal buyer, rather than trying to look for big fish.
"It also said the majority of recovered guns in Mexico were not traced, although trace requests to ATF for guns recovered in Mexico increased from 5,834 in fiscal 2004 to 22,000 in fiscal 2009. It said most trace requests from Mexico are considered "unsuccessful" because of missing or improperly entered gun data."
This supports what has been reported before -- claims that X% of Mexican cartel guns come from the US are inventions.
"Mr. Fine said that in its response to the report, ATF provided new information regarding the accomplishments it said it had achieved under Project Gunrunner in fiscal years 2006 through 2009, but that most of the data differed from the information ATF provided his investigators during their review. He said investigators determined that the new data contained discrepancies and questioned its validity."
Surprise! Another interesting point made is that ATF doesn't share data with the Mexican authorities. Its Deputy Director responds: "these very dynamic circumstances create information-sharing challenges that ATF and the government of Mexico are diligently collaborating to overcome." He's trying politely to say "Are you kidding? Many of their government officials are on the cartel's payrolls, and the rest will be if they ever get information of value. You might as well share the intel with the cartels directly, and eliminate the middle man>"