Move to revive IRS drug busting

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The Internal Revenue Service once used its investigative techniques to send big-time drug dealers and mobsters to jail, but now seems more interested in going after ordinary citizens, says a report released Sunday by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Citing the extreme difficulty for law enforcement agencies to get information from the IRS about drug traffickers and other criminals, the report urges Congress to amend the Tax Reform Act of 1976 to give law enforcement agencies easier access to IRS information.

Subcommittee chairman Sam Nunn (D) of Georgia says a strong effort is being made "to put the IRS back into the law enforcement business.

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"There was a time when organized criminals, including big-time drug deales, feared IRS agents more than any other investigators. The example of Al Capone going to prison on tax charges when he could not be convicted of anything else is an example that has been repeated over and over again since the Prohibition era."

Adding that the IRS is "the best-equipped federal agency for the investigation of organized crime and the drug traffic," Sen. Charles H. Percy (R) of Illinois says the nation should "return the IRS to the forefront in the fight against organized crime and big-time narcotics trafficking."

The subcommittee also recommended the IRS be reorganized and that criminal investigation and intelligence have its own director rather than remain under the assistant commissioner for compliance.

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