An Albertsons store employee found a loaded gun, other than the one shown here, while unpacking a box of frozen ribs in Roswell, N.M. Reuters

When somebody finds a gun in an unexpected place, it’s generally the answer to some questions. Police can find out if the weapon was used to commit any crimes or even whether it was the literal smoking gun in an unsolved murder. In one particular case, however, when a worker found a loaded gun while unpacking frozen meat on Wednesday, all that came next were questions.

An employee at an Albertson’s store in Roswell, N.M., found the weapon while opening a case of ribs. The handgun was in the same box as the meat, although it was not packaged directly with it. The worker wiped off the semiautomatic Rock Island Armory .38-caliber Super and seven rounds of ammunition before turning the find over to the police, according to Albuquerque television station KRQE.

“I have personally never heard of this in 13 years,” said Sgt. Jim Preston of the Roswell Police Department. “We could speculate on a lot of things. It could have been someone just dropped it there, or it could have been something that someone put it there trying to hide it for 100 different reasons.”

Dated June 8, 2011, the package was sent from a Swift packing plant in Greeley, Colo., KRQE said. Greeley police are reportedly investigating gang activity around the Colorado plant, although how a gang member would be able to leave a gun inside a seemingly random package was not immediately clear.

Finding out the gun’s true starting point will be further complicated by the fact it was packaged 18 months ago.

“The other part that's disturbing is the date on the package was 6.8.2011. I don't know how long meat stays well-frozen, but that was the date of the package he was opening,” Roswell P.D. representative Sabrina Morales told NBC News.

Yahoo News noted the weapon was not reported stolen in either New Mexico or Colorado. Police will have less information to go on because when the Albertsons employee wiped down the gun, he eliminated any fingerprints that may have been available. Still, law-enforcement officials should be able to track where the firearm was sold based on its serial number.

“If we would have been notified while it was still in the box and no one would have touched it, there could have possibly been some forensic evidence that we could have actually looked into,” Preston said.

The gun has been checked against the National Crime Information Center database, but no results have been reported yet, KRQE said.