Kenneth Melson, the acting director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, is expected to step down because of the “Fast and Furious” gun-running investigation that allowed weapons to be sold to suspected agents of Mexican drug cartels, reports the Los Angeles Times. Melson’s resignation, which could happen as early as this week, is the most significant repercussion yet from a growing public outcry over the operation, under which ATF agents watched while straw purchasers acquired more than 1,700 AK-47s and other high-powered rifles from Arizona gun dealers and delivered them to others.
Hundreds of the weapons turned up at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S., including in southern Arizona last December where a Border Patrol agent was shot to death. At a House hearing last week, internal government documents showed that Melson was closely involved in overseeing the operation. Documents released by Congress showed that he asked for and received log-in information and a link to an Internet feed so that he could watch some of the illegal straw purchases taking place in an Arizona gun store. Melson became acting director in April 2009 and has remained in place because gun rights groups have held up confirmation of the proposed permanent director.