Two Alberta men have been charged with more than a dozen firearms-related offences after several semi-automatic weapons were seized by Edmonton police.
The Edmonton Police Service launched its investigation in September 2020 after receiving information that a man was selling a prohibited gun on a local online buy and sell site. The EPS did not name the site but said it is “frequently used to sell firearms.”
The investigation led police to an organized criminal network that the EPS allege was illegally obtaining firearms and ammunition and trafficking them to other people both online and in-person.
Police said in some cases, the firearms were straw purchased, which means someone with a valid firearms license purchases a firearm for those who cannot legally purchase firearms for themselves.
The investigation also involved an undercover operation, according to acting chief Kevin Brezinski, in which a meeting was arranged and a firearm was purchased by the undercover officer.
“Further investigations led to additional purchases of firearms and then eventually we conducted a search warrant and additional information was gathered and then we arrested two individuals.”
On Dec. 15, officers with the EPS Firearms Investigation Unit and the St. Paul RCMP searched two residences in Saddle Lake, Alta. Nine firearms and 10 prohibited magazines were seized, the EPS said in a media release Tuesday.
- Gold painted DPMS, Panther Arms, 223/556mm AR-15
- Black semi-automatic SKS rifle, chambered in 7.62 x 39 caliber
- Brown painted semi-automatic Kodiak Defence WK180C, chambered in .223 Remington
- Black semi-automatic HiPoint 995 Carbine, chambered in 9mm with pistol grip and scope
- Black Kel Tec SU16 Tactical Rifle
- Two Spector LTD, WS-MCR, semi-automatic rifle, chambered in .223 caliber
- Lockhart Tactical, FD12, bullpup semi-automatic, 12-gauge shotgun
- Winchester .22 rifle
- Numerous rounds of ammunition representative of the calibers of the trafficked firearms
“This particular seizure certainly is concerning to us and when you have one magazine that has 100 rounds in it that could be used,” Brezinski said.
“Shootings happen daily not only in the city of Edmonton but also in the outlying areas and are a concern to the RCMP and to us.”
Two men were taken into custody without incident, according to police.
“This particular case illustrates how firearms can be illegally obtained in a number of ways, including via firearms trafficking and straw purchasing, and are often sold in areas well beyond where they were originally sourced,” Sgt. Eric Stewart with the FIU said. “There are no boundaries to firearms trafficking, and once the firearms enter the illegal market, they can be trafficked numerous times in numerous jurisdictions until seized by police.”
“It is imperative that we continue to target firearms trafficking and remove these guns off the streets and hold those responsible,” said Supt. Mark Hancock of Eastern Alberta District RCMP. “This is a great example of how intelligence-led investigations, collaboration and partnerships lead to successful arrests.”
Keano Gadwa, 22, and Ian Cardinal, 30, both of Saddle Lake, have been charged with a total of 15 firearms-related offences including, firearms trafficking, firearm possession for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a prohibited/restricted firearm with ammunition and unauthorized possession of a prohibited device/magazine.
The EPS said both men are known to police and additional arrests and charges are pending.
Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 21 of this year, the EPS has responded to 154 shootings and seized 1,014 firearms.
“Firearms trafficking undoubtedly contributes to the violence we are seeing in our city and communities across the province,” Staff Sgt. Pierre Blais with the EPS Drug & Gang Enforcement Section said.
“We are hopeful that our continued focus on firearms trafficking with our law enforcement partners province-wide will help to make communities across Alberta a safer place to live.”
Brezinski said that as of Dec. 14, 2020, 119 victims were injured or killed by firearms in Edmonton, which is a 34 per cent increase from the same time in 2019.
“A variety of guns are used to commit crimes. Anything from handguns to long guns,” Brezinski said.
“While the majority of these incidents involved those known to police, the effect they have on our community’s sense of safety is felt by everyone.”