The acting director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was reassigned Tuesday and Arizona’s top federal prosecutor resigned in the midst of ongoing inquiries into a controversial gun-trafficking investigation that allowed hundreds of firearms to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartel enforcers and U.S. criminals. Attorney General Eric Holder said B. Todd Jones, the chief federal prosecutor in Minnesota, would replace Kenneth Melson as acting director of the ATF. Holder said Melson will become senior adviser on forensic science in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy, reports USA Today.
Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, whose office is overseeing pending prosecutions in the gun investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious, resigned. Emory Hurley, an assistant federal prosecutor directly assigned to the gun prosecutions, was reassigned within the Phoenix office. The shake-up, which had been expected for more than a month, represents the Obama administration’s first major response to allegations that the flawed gun investigation, aimed at tracking guns to drug cartel leaders, may have been responsible for arming drug organizations in deadly encounters with Mexican and U.S. officials.