ALERT seized more guns last year than ever before

A record number of guns were seized in the province last year by Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT).

'The more firearms that are out there of course the more potential there is for tragedy'

Guns seized last year during a drug bust in Red Deer and Sylvan Lake were just some of the 249 firearms seized by the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) over the year. (Supplied/ALERT)

A record number of guns were seized in the province last year by Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT).

The ALERT guns and gangs team seized 249 guns between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, almost double the number of the previous year, according to an annual report released Monday.

"The more firearms that are out there of course the more potential there is for tragedy," said Insp. Dave Dubnyk, officer in charge of ALERT regional teams and the Internet Child Exploitation Unit.

One of the main reasons for the increase in guns in Alberta is the growing number of gangs, Dubnyk said.

The report identified 245 criminal gangs and organized-crime networks in Alberta.

"It's certainly an increase from what we've seen over the past years," Dubnyk said.

"There's always the concern of the particular criminal network wanting to protect their territory or protect their turf," he said.

Alberta is seeing more gangs operating inter-provincially, such as the Red Scorpions and Independent Soldier, Dubnyk said.

"These were typically organized-crime networks we were seeing in other western Canadian provinces," he said. " [We're] starting to see more of those in Alberta. They reach into communities throughout the province, both big and small."

Now, more often than not, with those networks come firearms. 

"Many years ago it was a rarity to find and seize a gun at a crime scene," Dubnyk said. "Now it's a rarity not to." 

Funded by the Alberta government, ALERT tackles serious and organized crime. Members of the Calgary Police Service, Edmonton Police Service, Lethbridge Police Service, Medicine Hat Police Service and RCMP work in ALERT.


Nola Keeler is an award-winning journalist who has worked with CBC in Whitehorse, Yukon and Edmonton since 2000. She has worked as a host, reporter, news reader and producer for CBC. Send story ideas to nola.keeler@cbc.ca.