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Too Fast and Furious? U.S. Attorney Gone, ATF Director Reassigned

By Robyn Hagan Cain | Last updated on

Two of the government masterminds behind Operation Fast and Furious have been pushed out of their jobs amid continuing outcry over the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) illegal gun trafficking scheme.

Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson has been reassigned, as of August 30, as a senior adviser on forensic science in the Department of Justice’s office of Legal Programs. U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke resigned from his post the same day. A Phoenix Assistant U.S. Attorney involved in the operation was reassigned from the criminal division to the civil division, according Fox News.

The new ATF Director, B. Todd Jones, is the first African-American to head the ATF. Jones is a former Marine, who previously served as U.S. Attorney in Minnesota. Burke will be succeeded temporarily by Ann Scheel, his former first assistant prosecutor, while a permanent replacement is found.

A hush-hush program that the ATF used to track Mexican drug cartels though illegal gun trafficking, Operation Fast and Furious came to the media's attention earlier this year when two of the guns from the operation were found at the scene of the killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, reports The New York Times.

The House of Representatives commenced investigatory hearings into Operation Fast and Furious in June. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa released a statement this week indicating that congressional investigations into the illegal gun trafficking sting will continue "to ensure that blame isn't offloaded on just a few individuals for a matter that involved much higher levels of the Justice Department."

Testimony about the program, in which approximately 2500 weapons were sold, will resume when Congress returns from recess after Labor Day.

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