Alberta, February 15: Alberta RCMP officers have arrested 13 people and seized a number of weapons including guns and body armor from the Coutts border crossing blockade.
The arrests happened early Monday morning after investigators became aware of a small group of people within the larger Coutts protest that had access to a cache of firearms and ammunition, RCMP said.
“The group was said to have a willingness to use force against the police if any attempts were made to disrupt the blockade,” RCMP said in a Monday news release.
“This resulted in an immediate and complex investigation to determine the extent of the threat and criminal organization.”
Officers searched three trailers and arrested 11 people.
During the execution of the search warrants, police said the following items were seized:
- 13 long guns;
- Multiple sets of body armour;
- A machete;
- A large quantity of ammunition; and
- High capacity magazines.
During a Monday afternoon news conference, Supt. Roberta McKale said an additional person had since been arrested, bringing the total to 12, and two more firearms were seized. Police later issued a release to say the number of arrests had reached 13.
McKale said RCMP are investigating a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
“We acted as soon as we could,” McKale said.”These weapons were brought by people who had the intent on causing harm.
“If there are more to be found we will find them.”
The arrests come after an incident on Monday night when, according to RCMP, a large farm tractor and semi-truck involved in the blockade attempted to “ram a police vehicle.”
“The police officer was able to reposition and avoid the collision,” said a news release. “RCMP officers followed the suspects to a location where the protesters were gathered.”
RCMP has seized the tractor and semi-truck involved and said the driver of the tractor has been identified.
“We are actively working to locate him so he can be taken into custody,” RCMP said.
In a Monday news release, Mounties reiterated that the primary goal for officers have been the safety of the public and RCMP officers.
The Alberta RCMP will resume efforts to end the illegal blockade which has prevented access to the Coutts border. We encourage all participants who are involved in this illegal action to leave immediately or relocate to the designated site for the legal protest.”