Former Army Special Forces soldier allegedly sought to smuggle guns


Fox Raiders
Jul 2, 2007
San Diego, CA
Federal prosecutors say a former Army Special Forces soldier turned Department of Defense contractor attempted to smuggle eight machine guns from Iraq to Fort Bragg.

John A. Houston, who retired as a sergeant major in 2006 to become a security subcontractor working in Baghdad, allegedly sent the weapons, illegal under U.S. law, through contacts in the military.

He claimed to two government informants that some of the guns were given to him by Blackwater employees following the September 2007 shooting in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, court documents said. The attack left 17 Iraqi civilians dead and raised questions about the role contracting companies played in Iraq’s security.

The informants reported to investigators that Houston claimed the Blackwater employees were trying to get rid of the weapons “before an investigation ensued,” Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Christopher J. Trainor wrote in a sworn statement.

The guns Houston is charged with shipping never made it to Fort Bragg in North Carolina, documents said. Instead, one of the informants intercepted the weapons and turned them over to authorities in Iraq. According to the indictment filed Wednesday, a co-conspirator was arranging with Houston via e-mail to receive the guns at the base.

Houston is charged with conspiracy to smuggle firearms into the United States. An ATF spokeswoman said the agency is “continuing to investigate.” His attorney did not return calls for comment.

Houston retired from the Army in June 2006 and started working for a defense contractor in 2007. He was stationed in Iraq, and was never given clearance to carry the weapons he’s accused of trying to smuggle.

The informant who intercepted the guns was an Army Reservist stationed in Iraq in 2007 and 2008, the statement said. He met Houston in fall 2007 while Houston was visiting a military base in Kalsu. At the time, Houston was operations center director at Camp Victory in Baghdad. Houston soon started asking for the informant’s help in smuggling the guns.

In February 2008, the informant was preparing to depart Iraq and Houston made his last attempt to get his help, documents said. The informant, operating at the direction of government agents, told Houston he’d put the guns in an already-inspected shipping container.

When the eight machine guns and one pistol arrived a few days later, they were turned over to investigators, Trainor wrote.