A group of 10 people has been indicted and arrested as part of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives into how guns bought in the Houston area wound up in Mexico.
An indictment recently unsealed in Houston federal court reads the group is accused of buying a total of 54 guns in August and September of 2011 at different stores in Tomball, Spring, Magnolia and northwest Harris County.
"Unbelievable," said Terry Porter, owner of Magnolia Hunting Supply. "I know half the other gun dealers in here."
Porter said he didn't remember the man who walked into his store last August and bought what court records show was a 7.62 caliber rifle.
"One of the absolute cheapest guns on the wall," said Porter. "You can bury this thing in the mud, pick it up and shoot the weapon."
Federal court records read the man who bought that weapon is one of 10 indicted on federal firearms charges. Federal officials said the group is suspected of being "straw buyers." Federal officials typically define "straw buyers" as people with clean criminal records who buy guns for someone else.
"Is that something you really ever thought you would deal with?" asked Local 2 Investigator Robert Arnold.
"No, I was looking for some guy to walk in and say, 'Give me five of these,'" said Porter.
Court records and federal investigators state a Magnolia-area man by the name of Daniel Wade Holler is suspected of recruiting his friends to buy the guns. Harris County court records show Holler has criminal convictions on his record, which means the law would have prevented him from buying the guns.
Investigators said they don't yet know who the guns were ultimately bought for, but federal officials told Local 2 Investigates the investigation started when five guns bought in the area were found in Mexico. Investigators said 17 of the guns have been recovered on the streets of Mexico, Houston, Del Rio and Eagle Pass. The rest are still out there.
Federal agents said they suspect more people may be involved in this operation.