EDMONTON – The Edmonton Police Service has charged two men and seized multiple firearms and ammunition rounds following a three-month long gun trafficking investigation.
In late September 2020, the EPS received information that a male was selling a prohibited firearm. It was reported to police that the male was advertising the prohibited gun on a local online buy and sell website frequently used to sell firearms. Following a lengthy investigation by the EPS Firearms Investigation Unit (FIU), police determined that an organized criminal network was illegally obtaining firearms and ammunition and trafficking them to others online and in-person. In some cases, the firearms were “straw purchased” which occurs when an individual with a valid firearms license purchases a firearm for those who cannot lawfully purchase firearms for themselves.
On Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, FIU investigators, with assistance from the St. Paul RCMP Crime Reduction Unit, executed search warrants at two residences in Saddle Lake, Alberta. At the conclusion of the investigation, FIU seized nine firearms and 10 prohibited magazines. Both males were also taken into custody without incident.
“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,” says Sgt. Eric Stewart with FIU. “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,” says 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.
“Keeping our communities safe is a top priority for the RCMP in Alberta.”
Police have since charged Keano Gadwa, 22, and Ian Cardinal, 30, both of Saddle Lake, 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. Both suspects are known to police and additional arrests and charges are pending.
The following items were seized during the investigation:
- 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
Between January 1, 2020 and Dec. 21, 2020, the EPS has responded to a total of 154 shootings and has seized 1014 firearms (not including airsoft guns).
“Firearms trafficking undoubtedly contributes to the violence we are seeing in our city and communities across the province,” says Staff Sgt. Pierre Blais with the EPS Drug & Gang Enforcement Section. “We are hopeful that our continued focus on firearms trafficking with our law enforcement partners provincewide will help to make communities across Alberta a safer place to live.”
The EPS Firearms Investigation Unit would like to thank the St. Paul RCMP Crime Reduction Unit, the RCMP Emergency Response Team, the Vegreville RCMP and numerous members at the EPS for their assistance with this investigation.