The acting director of the Bureau of Alchohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was sacked Tuesday over the ill-fated “Operation Fast and Furious” scandal that led to illegal weapons crossing the United States-Mexican border and the murder of a Border Patrol agent.
Fox News reports that Director Kenneth Melson has been reassigned to a lesser post in the Justice Department and the U.S. attorney for Arizona — where much of the agency’s activity of providing Mexican drug cartels with weapons occurred — was also pushed out Tuesday.
The operation involved ATF agents allowing weapons purchased by straw purchasers to cross the border in order to track them to Mexican drug cartels, ostensibly to help facilitate a crackdown on the cartels. But many of the weapons were lost once they crossed the border and were later linked to crimes both in the U.S. and in Mexico, including the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry on Dec. 14, 2010.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota B. Todd Jones stepped in as director of the ATF on Tuesday, per an announcement by the Department of Justice.
“As a seasoned prosecutor and former military judge advocate, U.S. Attorney Jones is a demonstrated leader who brings a wealth of experience to this position,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in a press release. “I have great confidence that he will be a strong and steady influence guiding ATF in fulfilling its mission of combating violent crime by enforcing federal criminal laws and regulations in the firearms and explosives industries.”
Many people believe the initial goal of Fast and Furious was to create a higher number of unregistered gun crimes in an attempt to require extensive paperwork for firearm related purchases made by law-abiding citizens, according to World Net Daily.
Despite the agency’s attempts to clean up its image in the eyes of the public, a Los Angeles Times story earlier this month reported that three key Fast and Furious supervisors were promoted — or, in the agency’s language, “laterally transferred” — to positions in Washington.
Federal and Congressional investigations into the program are ongoing.