Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Operation Gunwalker nets U.S. Attorney, ATF Chief

Washington – An ill-fated gun-trafficking investigation gone wrong led to the resignation of the U.S. Attorney in Phoenix and the replacement of the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced the resignation of Dennis K. Burke, U.S. Attorney in Phoenix, and Kenneth E. Melson, BATFE chief in Washington, D.C.

An operation of the Phoenix office of BATFE, Operation “Fast and Furious” was supposed to catch straw purchasers who buy firearms for gun traffickers who then sell them to drug runners on the other side of the Mexican border.

During the years 2009 to 2011, agents watched as thousands of guns made their way across the border while local BATFE agents protested. They were told to stand down in their efforts to prevent the guns from going across the border. In their reports, they told key Senators that they were convinced the actions of their superiors at BATFE was to “pad” the number of guns known to have been sold by local border state gunshops to smugglers.

In December of 2010, two Border Patrol Agents were gunned down by bandits who await illegal immigrants in the rugged canyons near Tucson. Two of the weapons recovered following the shoot-out were from the thousands reportedly sold to straw purchasers.

At that time, whistle blower agents of the BATFE contacted members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who used the intelligence to block the confirmation of an appointee to the top position at BATFE.

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