Winnipeg 3D-gun trafficker sentenced to 12 years behind bars
Blake Ellison-Crate pleaded guilty to 13 charges in total
A Winnipeg man who claimed one of the guns he made was used in a shooting last summer at the Red River Ex was sentenced this week to 12 years in prison for multiple gun trafficking crimes, including manufacturing and selling 3D-printed guns.
Blake Ellison-Crate, 24, pleaded guilty to 13 separate charges in Manitoba provincial court, including manufacturing firearms, possession of restricted firearms and using false identities to unlawfully obtain firearms. The dates of the charges range from September 2021 to June 2022.
During his sentencing hearing on Tuesday, court heard Ellison-Crate manufactured and trafficked 3D-printed "ghost guns" — so called because they're untraceable — from his apartment. He continued to do so after being arrested and even had a hand in their manufacture while he was incarcerated, according to an agreed upon statement of facts.
The 13 charges were the result of a months-long police investigation that started after the Canada Border Services Agency seized a package destined for Winnipeg that contained parts used to assemble 3D-printed guns in November 2021.
About eight months later, Winnipeg police and border services searched Ellison-Crate's home, where they seized various 3D-printed gun parts and compatible ammunition, along with a cellphone and computer tablet.
Police analyzed these devices and found dozens of messages about firearms trafficking between Ellison-Crate and potential buyers, court heard.
Those messages continued even after Ellison-Crate was arrested in September 2021 for unlawful possession of a firearm and was under a court order not to possess firearms as a result.
Links to Winnipeg crimes
While in jail following his arrest in June 2022, Ellison-Crate was recorded on a phone call claiming to have been the person behind some guns used in crimes around Winnipeg, including the shooting at the Red River Ex summer fair that same month, which sent a 16-year-old boy to hospital.
Two months before that, a gun seized by police during a search of a homicide suspect's apartment was also linked to Ellison-Crate, though that firearm was not the one used in the homicide.
Court also heard Ellison-Crate instructed his business partner over the phone on how to build the firearms and manage the sales.
Judge Alain Huberdeau called the case "sophisticated" for the scope and scale of the offender's activities. He noted that some guns and parts Ellison-Crate made were high-volume magazines and parts for fully automatic weapons.
"Although we will never know the full extent of the harm he has inflicted, we know the streets of Winnipeg, as well as the province as a whole, will be a far less safe place and that the criminal element of society has been empowered by his activity," he said.
However, Huberdeau said he also took into consideration that Ellison-Crate had struggled with addictions, pleaded guilty and expressed remorse for his actions. The judge also noted that Ellison-Crate had completed some programs while in jail and that his family was present at his sentencing hearing to support him.
With all of the sentences for each of the 13 charges combined, Ellison-Crate was sentenced to a total of 44 years in custody. But because Judge Huberdeau allowed some of them to be served concurrently, that sentence was lessened to 12 years, excluding the 228 days he's already spent behind bars.
Huberdeau noted that in similar cases, the offenders were given six to 10 years in custody and that he felt 12 years was justified given the number of offences.
By comparison, last week another Manitoba man who pleaded guilty to manufacturing 3D-printed guns was sentenced to three years in prison plus two years of probation.