Eric Holder (Getty Images)
Washington, DC (USA Today) -- An internal report by the Justice Department found no evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder knew about a botched gun-trafficking operation to Mexico, but does recommend that 14 federal law enforcement officials, including the head of the criminal division, be disciplined.
In the wake of the report, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, a longtime career prosecutor who most recently served in the criminal division, has resigned and the former acting director at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has retired, effective immediately.
The operation, known as "Fast and Furious" allowed about 2,000 weapons to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartel enforcers, according to the review by the Justice Department inspector general, USA TODAY's Kevin Johnson reports.
A similar operation in 2006 was named "Operation Wide Receiver."
The department's inspector general determined that acting deputy attorney general, Gary Grindler, received a briefing about the operation in March 2010, but that the briefing "failed to alert Grindler to problems in the investigation," NBC News reports.
But the report found "no evidence" that Holder was informed about the operation or learned about the tactics employed by the ATF in the investigation before Congress began pressing him for information in early 2011.
After the report was released, Holder said that it shows that the ill-fated strategy used to track guns was inappropriate, "field-driven" and dates to 2006.
He also says it shows that the top leadership of the DOJ did not know or authorize the operation and "did not attempt to cover up information or mislead Congress about it."
"It is unfortunate that some were so quick to make baseless accusations before they possessed the facts about these operations -- accusations that turned out to be without foundation and that have caused a great deal of unnecessary harm and confusion," Holder said in a statement. "I hope today's report acts as a reminder of the dangers of adopting as fact unsubstantiated conclusions before an investigation of the circumstances is completed."