Alberta RCMP arrest 13 people at Coutts border blockade, seize weapons
Alberta RCMP officers have arrested 13 people and seized a number of weapons including guns and body armour 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."
2 VEHICLES ATTEMPT TO RAM RCMP CRUISER
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 have 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."
'BROADER ENFORCEMENT MEASURES' COMING TO BLOCKADE: KENNEY
Speaking during a Monday morning news conference, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the arrests underscore the severity of what has been happening at the Coutts border blockade, saying more enforcement measures are coming.
"This investigation has been ongoing over the past week and the RCMP obviously did not want to escalate (a) situation that could provoke potential violence until they had a tactical plan in place," Kenney said.
"So now that RCMP has resolved this potential threat they will proceed, I am informed, with enforcement against others who are involved in the blockade at and around Coutts."
Kenney said the province has successfully procured the necessary heavy equipment to assist police in removing vehicles blocking the highways.
"Throughout all of this, it's important to underscore that traffic across the Alberta/Montana border has operated largely unimpeded because we have six ports of entry between Alberta and Montana, five of which have continued to operate according to either normal or extended hours," Kenney said.
"My message to those still involved in the blockade at Coutts is that you know you have not closed the border, all you've done is to inconvenience thousands and thousands of hardworking truckers who have been trying to do their job and make a living, forcing them to drive longer distances for no point.
"The ongoing blockade of our borders and our highways at Coutts will no longer be tolerated.
Kenney said he has been frustrated with the ongoing border blockade and the safety hazard it represents.
He added people in the province will be "very distressed to learn about this small group that apparently have had violent intent that have been identified and now detained."
"We're very happy that no one was harmed, all of their officers are safe, and the enforcement action continues today."
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