San Diego Union-Tribune

April 25, 2001

61,000 INS items unaccounted for


WASHINGTON -- So where is that missing gas-grenade launcher?

And what about the dozens of revolvers and the shotguns? Those weapons were among the items misplaced, lost or stolen from the San Diego Immigration and Naturalization Service and Border Patrol offices, according to a new Justice Department report.

Nationwide, the INS failed to account for at least 61,000 items -- from weapons to computers that were supposed to be part of the agency's 1999 inventory, an Office of Inspector General's audit found.

The missing inventory amounts to at least $68.9 million, investigators said.

INS officials challenged the findings.

Spokesman Greg Gagne blamed much of the audit's conclusions on the agency's previously "bad record keeping."

"There were a huge set of inaccuracies or inconsistencies," Gagne said. "We have greatly overhauled the system."

Some of the inventory in question may have been disposed of, INS officials said.