Texas Couple Buys Surplus Military Gun Case, Finds a Dozen M16s Inside

m16 texas

M16 rifles seized by the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from the storage unit of a Houston couple. Screenshot via an ABC13 news report.

Screenshot via an ABC13 news report.

A Houston couple who thought they had bought 108 empty gun cases from a military surplus website was stunned to find that one of the cases delivered to them wasn’t empty. Instead, it held a dozen M16-style military rifles, complete with military tracking tags.

When the husband and wife, who asked Houston broadcaster ABC13 not to identify them, discovered the cache of military guns, they reported the shipment to federal authorities, who have been trying to figure out what happened.

“It’s just a case; everyone can buy it online,” the woman who purchased the cases with her husband told ABC13. She said they regularly purchased surplus goods in bulk, then split up the lots to resell online.

A spokesperson for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Houston Field Division confirmed to Coffee or Die Magazine that the agency seized 12 carbine-style rifles from the boxes, which the couple stored in the town of Richmond, about 40 minutes outside Houston. The spokesperson said the ATF was investigating the origin of the rifles as the lead agency on the case, with the FBI assisting.

“The only comment we can provide is that we can confirm that we’ve seized 12 M16 rifles, and we’re actively investigating their origins,” the spokesperson told Coffee or Die.

The woman told ABC13 that the couple had paid between $100 and $200 per case from GovPlanet, a surplus equipment company.

“We just purchased these cases. We never expected anything in there,” the Houston man said. “Supposedly, the sender should check every single box to make sure there’s nothing dangerous or anything.”

surplus M16

Federal agents executed a search warrant on a Houston couple’s storage facility in the Richmond area of Texas after M16 rifles were found in a shipment of gun cases they received. Screenshot via an ABC13 news report.

Screenshot via an ABC13 news report.

GovPlanet is a hub for government agencies and the military to sell unwanted equipment, according to its website, though surplus M16s are not among the inventory.

The couple immediately called authorities upon finding the guns. “We are good citizens,” the woman said.

The couple told ABC13 they’d found the surplus M16s after giving a box to a friend as a “thank you” gift for helping with the delivery. The man opened the case and found a dozen M16-style rifles, which were tagged by service branch and service member names.

Hours after the couple filed a report, agents from the FBI and the ATF seized the open case that contained the surplus M16s and returned soon after with a search warrant for the couple’s storage unit, where the gun cases were stored.

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Jenna Biter has written for regional magazines and digital outlets including on great power competition and special operations medical teams for The National Interest. She is pursuing a master’s degree in national security and is working on speaking Russian. Her husband is on active duty in the US military. Know a good story about national security or the US military? Email Jenna.
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