ATF director reassigned, U.S. attorney resigns after ‘Operation Fast and Furious’
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Tuesday the resignation of U.S. Attorney in Phoenix Dennis K. Burke and the reassignment of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives acting director Kenneth E. Melson, both of whom were associated with the failed gun-running cross-border operation dubbed “Fast and Furious.”
In the operation, agents watched as straw purchasers bought guns from dealers in border states; those guns were then handed to middlemen of Mexican drug gangs. Nearly 2,000 guns were allowed to “walk” across the border for 14 months. Nearly 200 have been recovered at crime scenes in Mexico and two guns were at the scene of the murder of Border Patrolman Brian Terry.
Three supervisors of the operation have received promotions from field offices to Washington.
Melson, who was reassigned to an advising position in the Office of Legal Policy in the Justice Department, is unlikely to be replaced with a permanent director — the agency has been without a permanent director for five years as the process has been held up by a lack of Senate confirmation.