John Dodson was born in Virginia. His mother was a custodian at an elementary school and his father was a farmhand. He went straight into the army after his high school graduation, where he worked in intelligence for three years. He was given an honorable discharge and became a deputy. After a long, successful law enforcement career, making detective, and working in the vice-narcotics unit, ATF recruited him in 2005. In late 2009, he was transferred to Phoenix to help start a new group there that would specifically target firearms trafficking, where he became aware of the Fast and Furious program. After blowing the whistle in early 2011, he was transferred to Tucson, Arizona, where he currently resides.