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Deputy Director William Hoover resigns from ATF in wake of critical report

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
updated 10:06 PM EDT, Thu August 2, 2012
ATF Deputy Director William Hoover resigned Thursday.
ATF Deputy Director William Hoover resigned Thursday.
  • The ATF's Operation Fast and Furious lost track of hundreds of weapons in Mexico
  • Two of the missing weapons were found at the scene of a border patrol agent's death
  • ATF Deputy Director Hoover was among officials criticized by a congressional report
  • Hoover officially submitted his retirement papers this week

Washington (CNN) -- ATF Deputy Director William Hoover has resigned, just days after a congressional report on Operation Fast and Furious sharply criticized him and four other ATF officials for the botched gun-trafficking operation.

Hoover officially retired from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Tuesday, according to two senior ATF officials.

Hoover and his boss, Ken Melson, who was acting director of the ATF at the time, were re-assigned last year in a shake-up ordered by Attorney General Eric Holder. Melson remains with the Justice Department.

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Hoover was serving as an assistant to the new ATF deputy director when he submitted his retirement papers Monday, officials said.

A report last week by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, laid much of the blame for the failed gun-running probe on Melson and Hoover in Washington, and three ATF officials in Arizona.

A detailed investigation by the Justice inspector general is expected later this month, and Holder has vowed that he will take action, if warranted, against individuals found culpable in the investigation.

The controversy over Fast and Furious erupted after two of an estimated 1,400 missing weapons lost by the ATF in Mexico, were discovered at the scene of the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

The ATF's planned sting operation to track weapons illegally purchased by straw purchasers bound for a Mexico drug cartel proved disastrous when ATF agents lost track of hundreds of weapons after they crossed the Mexican border.

Holder and his top lieutenants have been on the defensive over the bungled operation that was mounted by one of the Justice Department's agencies. Holder has forcefully ended the practice of allowing guns "to walk" in the hands of illegal purchasers with the intent of tracking weapons to cartels.

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