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Minn. US Attorney Jones Named Acting ATF Director

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(credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

(credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

(credit: CBS) Adam Carter
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) – The acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Attorney in Arizona are resigning following investigations into a flawed law enforcement operation aimed at major gun-trafficking networks on the Southwest border.

Minnesota U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones has been named acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Attorney General Eric Holder says Jones is a demonstrated leader who will be a strong and steady influence guiding ATF in its mission of combating violent crime.

Jones will take his new post Aug. 31, but he’ll continue to serve in the capacity of U.S. Attorney.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Adam Carter Reports

The Justice Department says Jones will replace the bureau’s acting director, Kenneth Melson.

“They needed some new leadership,” Jones said.

Melson will become senior adviser on forensic science in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy.

ATF has been criticized by Republicans on Capitol Hill for a law enforcement operation in Arizona designed to track small-time gun buyers up to major weapons traffickers along the Southwest border. ATF intelligence analyst Lorren Leadmon testified that of more than 2,000 weapons linked to the operation, some 1,400 have not been recovered.

“Quite frankly, the events on the southwest border and some of the other things surrounding Fast and Furious have been some major distractions,” Jones said. “But ATF (has) an important mission.”

Jones said he is confident he can continue to do an effective job as US Attorney for Minnesota while serving as acting director of the ATF.

“I wouldn’t have taken it on if I didn’t have 100 percent, 110 percent confidence in my office now. Two years into it, I have a very good, very strong management team,” he said.

Jones is the fifth “acting” director of ATF since 2006. Andrew Traver is the current nominee for ATF director, but he has yet to have a confirmation hearing.

No replacement was immediately announced for the U.S. Attorney in Arizona, Dennis Burke, whose office was deeply involved in the ATF investigation called Operation Fast and Furious which focused on several Phoenix area gun shops.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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