ALERT investigating illegal online weapons sales in northern Alberta
Modified handgun in Fort McMurray linked to 'Dr. Frankenstein'
The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams are joining up with other enforcement agencies to crack down on illegal weapons in the province.
Firearms seized from Fort McMurray home:
- Fully automatic Glock 17 handgun
- Tikka T3 rifle
- Bushmaster Carbon 15 rifle
- Savage Arms assault rifle
- Two handguns
- Five rifles
- Two shotguns
- More than 3,000 rounds of shotgun, rifle, and pistol ammunition
Last week a Fort McMurray man was accused of buying gun parts online that could turn a Glock pistol into a fully-automatic machine gun.
Police seized 13 firearms – including the illegally modified, fully automatic Glock – from the 29-year-old’s home on August 19, along with ammunition.
“The modified Glock is a highly dangerous weapon with a rate of fire of 1,200 rounds per minute,” said Insp. Gary Peck with ALERT.
Police say the majority of the weapons were found to be illegally stored. Three children were also in the home at the time of the arrest.
The guns’ owner is facing numerous possession, alteration and unsecured storage charges.
The glock is one of the most popular handguns among licenced owners in Edmonton, with hundreds being sold each year.
Links to larger illegal trade network
ALERT says the weapons were connected to a Langley, B.C. arms trafficker known as the “Dr. Frankenstein of weapons makers.”
The charges were laid after the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives began to investigate the Langley-based vendor.
According to ALERT, the case was the first of its kind in Alberta.
“It's unique that we did find an individual that's manufacturing these parts and conversion kits in Canada,” said Thomas Mangan with the ATF.
Until now, most gun charges laid in the province were the result of drug investigations, said Charmaine Bulger with ALERT.
“In the past year we've only actually investigated one true weapons smuggling case so we’re just looking to maybe get into more of the weapons smuggling here.”
But now Bulger says that the number of illegal guns in Alberta is growing as gang members flock to this province to sell drugs in a booming economy.
"We have seen established gangs – mostly connected to B.C. – operate in Alberta and that's just based on recent arrests," she said.
Even when the gun is used for hunting or target practise – as the accused claims his was – Bulger said turning a pistol into a machine gun is a serious offence.
"Maybe tomorrow his place will be broken into and they get access to these guns," she said. "Next thing you know, this gun's on the street for illegal activity and now we really have to deal with it."
Bulger said enforcement officials from all involved agencies will continue to work together to limit weapons smuggling and traffic inside Canada and across the border.
The Fort McMurray man is currently out on bail, but is due back in court Wednesday.