OPP disrupt alleged gun smuggling ring accused of building untraceable handguns
Chris Herhalt, CTV News Toronto
Published Tuesday, December 11, 2018 11:44AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 11, 2018 12:51PM EST
The OPP and several GTA police services say they have disrupted a pair of weapons smugglers who allegedly built 120 untraceable handguns and sold them to criminal gangs for as much as $2,500 each.
OPP Supt. Bryan MacKillop said that starting last year; police services in the GTA noticed they were seizing numerous handguns that did not have serial numbers, making them impossible to trace.
The handguns resembled a popular model but lacked any manufacturer’s mark on them, suggesting they were made in secret.
“It’s not something that requires a big machine shop or a big industrial area to manufacture,” MacKillop told reporters Tuesday.
Last week, after spending eight months on the investigation, officers from across the GTA executed 39 search warrants involving close to 400 police officers.
They allegedly seized 14 handguns, six long guns including a World War II-era PPS43 submachine gun capable of fully automatic fire, a shortened Galil assault rifle, hand grenades, silencers and body armour.
They also found several kilograms of cocaine and some fentanyl. Four vehicles and one house were also seized as proceeds of crime.
A total of 23 people were arrested. Two of the suspects — Bruce McKinnon, 47, and Jon Rasmussen, 29 — stand accused of manufacturing the guns.
“We have reason to believe two main accused have conspired to manufacture and traffic in excess of 120 untraceable handguns,” MacKillop said.
Together, the two men are facing 59 separate criminal charges. All accused were held in custody pending bail hearings.
Investigators said the parts for the handguns are legally available for purchase in Canada, but putting them together to make a working semi-automatic handgun is a crime.
As the guns have no markings or a serial number, they are meant for only one purpose, crime.
The guns were sold for about $2,500, which is somewhat of a bargain on the black market.
Last month, CBSA and Toronto police officials told reporters that top-quality, polymer-framed handguns smuggled from the United States can fetch as much as $5,000.
“What we’ve been able is say this group was supplying weapons to people involved in criminality linked to street gangs,” MacKillop said.