WINDSOR, Colorado — A Colorado man faces federal weapons and smuggling charges after law enforcement said he was caught trying to ship gun parts hidden in the compartments of remote-controlled toy cars to buyers around the world.
Michael John Suppes, 45, was arrested after he was pulled over on Interstate 25 with 50 illegal AR-15s and AK-47s he had agreed to sell to undercover agents who claimed they planned to smuggle the weapons into Mexico, according to a federal indictment filed Tuesday.
According to the indictment, the investigation into Suppes began on Sept. 5, 2018, when customs officials intercepted a package headed to India that was later determined to contain an RC car. Inside, agents said they found several tightly-packed bundles that contained concealed weapons parts for a Glock handgun. The shipper was identified as “Toy Liquidators,” which was registered to a UPS drop box in Fort Collins.
The organization “Toy Liquidators” “appears to be fictious,” the indictment says, and was linked to Supples following a government search of Stamps.com records. Federal agents determined Suppes also used business names including “The Bicycle Shop LLC” and HobbyTown INC” in more than 1,200 domestic and international shipments from January 2015 to November 2018, according to the indictment. These businesses all listed their addresses as UPS stores in Fort Collins.
The only real business registered to Suppes was MJS Performance LLC, which the indictment said listed a Windsor address.
According to the indictment, an undercover federal agent emailed Suppes via the address listed on the MJS Performance LLC eBay account. This same account was selling the Glock firearms kit that had been found in the RC cars headed to India.
The agent later discovered that Suppes' Stamps.com account had been associated with the one that sent rifle barrels “concealed in metal shoe racks” to a middleman in New York, according to the indictment. The final destination was for an address in Saudi Arabia.
During the ensuing investigation, the undercover FBI agent bought a Glock handgun trigger kit from Suppes on eBay as well as a handgun frame kit, the indictment says. Suppes later told the agent to create an email account on a free encrypted service, and the two discussed buying firearms that the agent said he wanted to smuggle into Mexico, according to the indictment. The undercover agent said Suppes said he wouldn’t ship entire firearms directly to Mexico, and instead said he would send guns that he would have to “assemble and complete himself.”
The undercover agent and Suppes agreed to arrange payment through wire transfer to be picked up at Walmart, according to the indictment. In one case, the transaction was done in Suppes’ wife’s name.
As the correspondence between Suppes and the undercover agent continued, the indictment said customs officials intercepted RC cars containing firearms that were bound for everywhere from India to South Africa to Cambodia. In each case, the sender was an LLC tied to Suppes, the indictment says.
In March 2019, the indictment said a second undercover agent contacted Suppes and said he was located in Juarez, Mexico and wanted to buy $10,000 in parts for three assault rifles, four Glock handguns, magazines and 3,000 rounds of ammunition.
The next month, according to the indictment, Suppes met with the two undercover agents to complete the firearm sale and also gave them power tools to construct the weapons. The indictment says Suppes gave one of the agents a gun he had modified to include the Mexican flag on the barrel.
According to the indictment, this is when Suppes agreed to provide the undercover agents with 30 to 50 rifles, and said he had a big machine shop in his house where he could make custom parts.
Suppes later agreed to sell the undercover agent 30 AR-15 rifles and 20 AK-47 rifles $84,650 – which included him transporting the guns to El Paso, Texas, the indictment says. These weapons had illegal 10-inch barrels, according to the indictment.
According to the indictment, Suppes told the undercover agents he would start driving from his home in Windsor to El Paso on May 29 to deliver the firearms. This was later moved up to May 30, and the meeting location was changed to Pueblo, the indictment says.
Federal agents then obtained a warrant to track Suppes’ cell phone, according to the indictment. On May 30, law enforcement officers watched him leave his Windsor home and ultimately pulled him over near Firestone.
“A search of his vehicle revealed several boxes in the bed of the truck Suppes had been driving containing 50 AR and AK rifles and various rifles accessories including magazines and ammunition,” the indictment says. “One of the rifles was customized with the colors of the Mexican flag.”
According to the indictment, Suppes was arrested and taken to Greeley, where he agreed to speak to investigators.
“Suppes stated that he originally intended to travel to Pueblo, Colorado with the firearms and equipment in his truck to sell to an individual that he believed was a Mexican citizen,” the indictment reads. “Suppes stated that he changed his mind, because he knew it was illegal, and intended to travel to Castle Rock, Colorado to purchase a trailer.
“Suppes had no explanation why he was transporting firearm parts if he was traveling to Castle Rock, Colorado to purchase a trailer.”
During the interview, according to the indictment, Suppes admitted to manufacturing illegal “short-barreled rifles” at his residence and that they did not have serial numbers.
“Supples admitted he is not licensed to deal firearms and never applied for a license to deal firearms,” the indictment says.
That same day, according to the indictment, agents searched Suppes’ home in Windsor and found a “high volume of firearms and firearm parts” in addition to “large machines related to manufacturing firearms.”
Suppes is now charged with six counts of smuggling goods from the United States, dealing firearms without a license, and possession of unregistered firearms.
The penalties for these charges are as much as 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the indictment.
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