Four homemade MAC-11 submachine pistols manufactured by a black-market gun-making shop near Edmonton likely made their way onto the streets before officers busted the operation, police say.
Two people face charges after several prohibited high-powered weapons were recovered from a machine shop in Parkland County, west of Edmonton.
One of the accused was an employee at the shop.
The shop owner had no idea employees were creating the guns in the back room, said Staff Sgt. Pierre Blais of the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT).
32 rounds in 2 seconds
Two homemade MAC-11s were among the weapons seized when officers from the ALERT guns and gangs unit searched the machine shop and two homes in Edmonton. The submachine guns can empty a 32-round magazine in two seconds.
Blais told a news conference ALERT seized more than 250 guns last year, but has never encountered a MAC-11 forgery before.
Members of the guns and gangs unit are still investigating to find out how many MAC-11s were manufactured and how many found their way into the criminal market.
"Our investigators believe there are four additional [MAC-11s] that were manufactured by this suspect," Blais said. "And those are the ones that we want to get off the street."
Status symbols among gangsters
Blais said ALERT thinks the guns are being sold in northern Alberta and officers on the case will try to track the sale of the weapons.
An ALERT spokesperson said each MAC-11 can fetch up to $5,000 on the black market.
The weapons are status symbols among gangsters and drug traffickers, said Gordon McGowan, owner of MilArm Co. Limited, an Edmonton gun shop.
"If I poke that in your nose and you see the ominous black look of this machine gun in your face, as a bad guy I have a lot of street cred with that," he said.
The weapons are heavy and inaccurate and pose a high risk to the public, Blais said.
"Any guns in the wrong hands is of significant concern," he said. "Especially when they can shoot 1,200 rounds per minute."
McGowan said he was surprised officers have not seized more MAC-11 forgeries before because instructions for how to make them are readily available online.
"If you Google M-16 plans or MAC-11 plans," he said, "you're probably going to come up with a dozen or more sites that will give you information on how to build them."
In the same bust, officers also seized a Beretta handgun with a suppressor and a modified Suomi, a Second World War-era submachine gun made in Finland, along with two oversized magazines.
The eight-month long investigation began after the RCMP's national weapons enforcement support team received a tip about an Edmonton man trafficking firearms.
A man, 37, and a woman, 29, were arrested Aug. 17 and jointly charged with a total of 62 criminal offences, including firearms trafficking.
Both are scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 18.
ALERT, funded by the Alberta government, brings together officers from city police and RCMP across the province to investigate serious and organized crime.