Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) recently captured a drone that was transporting a bag of handguns across the U.S.-Canada border after it got stuck in a tree during its flight.
Lambton OPP responded to a call on April 29 regarding a large drone stuck in a tree on the Canadian side of the St. Clair River near the village of Port Lambton.
With help from the St. Clair Township Fire Department, police were able to obtain the drone and the illegal contents it was carrying. Attached to the drone was a shopping bag containing 11 handguns.
Investigators believe the drone departed from the United States.
“How are illegal guns reaching the hands of criminals in Canada? Recently, #LambtonOPP found that drones are being used to carry the prohibited guns over from the United States,” authorities wrote on Twitter.
The investigation is currently ongoing.
Investigators are asking anyone with information on the case to contact OPP.
Port Lambton is about 40 km south of Sarnia, Ontario.
Canada’s gun control laws are stricter than those in the U.S. According to Vox, to own a gun in Canada, one has to be licensed and each weapon (handgun or semiautomatic weapon) has to be registered with the authorities and not prohibited. In addition, handguns cannot be carried outside of the home openly or concealed unless with a specific license.
Last year, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the creation of a special cross-border task force to disrupt gun smuggling and trafficking.
The task force consists of U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) officers working alongside members of the Canada Borders Services Agency, the ATF, CPB and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to crack down on gun trafficking and prosecute responsible criminal networks.
“As the primary federal law enforcement agency responsible for investigating international smuggling operations, we have full confidence in our ability to identify and prosecute criminal networks and individuals attempting to break these laws,” HSI Ottawa Attaché Michael Buckley said in the press release. “Through our strong partnership with Canada and our partnering law enforcement agencies, we will work to prevent the illegal export of weapons and ensure they do not end up on the streets where they can be used to commit acts of violence.”
The HSI is a directorate of ICE and is an investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Earlier this year, a memo from Canada’s Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said that the number of guns smuggled from the U.S. to Canada was unknown but likely significant.
“The total number of firearms successfully smuggled into Canada is unknown,” the briefing noted.
According to the memo titled Efforts To Address Firearms Smuggling And Trafficking, a total of 692 firearms were seized at the border from last April 1 to September 30 last year from mostly “non-compliant travelers seeking to retain their personal firearms.”