Police seize major cache of homemade guns

Winnipeg police say they've seized the largest number of homemade guns they've ever found in a single location.

Search of house in West End leads to seizure of 11 improvised weapons

Winnipeg police seized 11 improvised firearms from a house on Maryland Street. (CBC)

Winnipeg police say they've seized the largest number of homemade guns they've ever found in a single location.

Police announced the bust Tuesday, displaying nearly a dozen improvised weapons, power tools, pieces of pipe and bullets that were taken from a home on Maryland Street on Monday.

The improvised weapons are capable of acting in the same way as regular firearms, but with additional risks, Insp. Max Waddell said at a news conference.

"A manufactured firearm, at least we can prove it's safe. These, we have no idea whether it's safe or not, so we have to take extraordinary precautions to ensure not only the safety of our officers but anybody that's in and around the area," he said. 

"We all need to be concerned. These are very capable of causing serious harm if used in that fashion, and we all need to be very much aware of their dangers."

Police say it's the largest number of improvised firearms ever found in one location. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

Police say they discovered the operation after spotting a man riding a bike in a dangerous fashion, weaving in and out of traffic and narrowly avoiding collisions with other drivers in the area of Balmoral Street and Cumberland Avenue on Sunday.

The officers tried to talk to the bicyclist but he fled the area.

The same man was seen trying to enter a yard on Maryland Street north of Ellice Avenue, and as he was lifting his bike, officers spotted what looked like a weapon in his waistband.

The officers ordered the man to stop but he fled into the house. Police chased him inside and arrested him, along with a woman. 

Numbers from the Winnipeg Police Service show the number of seized homemade guns, also known as zip guns, has jumped sharply in the past year and a half.

Police then got a warrant to search the house where found 11 improvised firearms, two of them loaded, as well as parts and tools used to manufacture improvised firearms. They also found a prohibited .22-calibre bolt-action firearm with a sling, and a gram of methamphetamine worth about $50.

Police also seized parts used for manufacturing improvised weapons. (CBC)

Police believe the guns are being made and sold to people addicted to methamphetamine, Waddell said. 

"The main connection is is when you're on methamphetamine, you're in a state of paranoia and you, as an individual, feel you need this firearm to protect yourself and what you see as an individual high on meth is not what we see," he said. 

A man, 27, has been charged with three counts of possession of a prohibited firearm, two counts of possession of a restricted or prohibited weapon or ammunition in violation of a probation order, weapons trafficking and drug possession.

A woman, 38, has been charged with possession of a firearm while knowing it is unauthorized and failing to comply with a recognizance.

Stats from the Winnipeg Police Service show shootings and incidents involving guns have risen in the city in recent years.