Four senior managers who oversaw the ill-fated federal gun-tracking probe called “Fast and Furious” will be fired if recommendations from a disciplinary panel are accepted.

People familiar with the matter said the Professional Review Board of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sent notices of its decision in recent days to bureau managers, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

In addition, two lower-level employees face disciplinary actions, short of firing.  The move from the ATF’s review board is the first step in what could be a months-long process, including appeals.

Operation Fast and Furious was a gun probe run by ATF agents in Phoenix in 2009 and 2010.  Agents allowed sales of about 2,000 guns, costing about $1.5 million, to suspected smugglers. The aim was to track the weapons across the Mexico border and prosecute top traffickers, but agents seized only about 100 of the firearms.

Many of the guns turned up at crimes scenes, including at the site where U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in December 2010.

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