The man who led the controversial Fast and Furious anti-gun-trafficking operation will step down as the interim head of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Justice Department announced Tuesday as it named a new acting director for the agency.
Kenneth Melson, the bureau’s acting director, on Wednesday will move to the Office of Legal Policy, where he will be a senior adviser on forensic science, the department said without making reference to the failed gun-tracking operation that is alleged to have ultimately put guns into the hands of criminals. Dennis Burke, the U.S. Attorney in Arizona who oversaw prosecutions in that state related to the Fast and Furious operation, is also stepping down, the department said.
Ken brings decades of experience at the department and extensive knowledge in forensic science to his new role, and I know he will be a valuable contributor on these issues,” Attorney General Eric Holder said of Melson in a statement. “As he moves into this new role, I want to thank Ken for his dedication to the department over the last three decades.”
Melson’s replacement is B. Todd Jones, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota. Jones “is a demonstrated leader who brings a wealth of experience to this position,” Holder said. “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.”
Melson took the top spot at the ATF on an interim basis in 2009 and oversaw the execution of Fast and Furious, an effort that was aimed at rooting out gun smugglers selling weapons to Mexican cartels. Ultimately, the ATF lost track of as many as 2,000 guns that were sold during the operation, including two that were found near the scene of the killing of a Border Patrol agent. Read more
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