Acting head of ATF reassigned

The embattled head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is being replaced in the aftermath of a botched sting operation that allowed guns to knowingly fall into the hands of violent criminals in Mexico.

Kenneth Melson will be replaced as acting ATF director by U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota B. Todd Jones, the Justice Department announced Tuesday. Jones is expected to assume the new position on Aug. 31. Melson is being reassigned as a senior advisor on forensic science in the Office of Legal Policy, the department said.

Melson came under fire for a program called Operation Fast and Furious, which was ran out of the ATF Phoenix field office. The operation has been halted and is under investigation by lawmakers and the Justice Department?s inspector general for failing to stop guns from flowing into Mexico.

The Justice Department did not mention Operation Fast and Furious in announcing the changes.

A congressional investigation into the operation being led by House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Senate Judiciary ranking member Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, is examining how high up within the administration the program was known about and authorized.

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