RCMP say they have arrested 11 people at the main United States border crossing in southern Alberta after becoming aware of a cache of firearms and ammunition.
Demonstrators have been protesting against COVID-19 vaccine mandates for cross-border truck drivers and broader health restrictions near Coutts, Alta. A blockade of trucks and vehicles has been at the crossing since Jan. 29.
Mounties said they learned of a small organized group within the protest that 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 news release that an investigation began immediately to determine the extent of the threat.
They said officers searched three trailers Monday morning believed to be linked to a criminal organization.
Thirteen long guns, handguns, multiple sets of body armour, a machete, a large quantity of ammunition and high-capacity magazines were seized.
Police also said a large farm tractor and a semi-truck, both involved in the blockade, attempted to ram a police vehicle Sunday night. An officer in the vehicle was able to reposition and avoid a crash, the release said.
Officers seized the farm tractor and semi-truck involved. They said they have identified a man who was driving of the tractor and are working to arrest him.
“We encourage all participants who are involved in this illegal action to leave immediately or relocate to the designated site for the legal protest,” the release said.
Premier Jason Kenney said Mounties had been aware of the threat for a week, but didn’t move until they had a tactical plan to move in without risking violence or escalating the situation.
He said now that the raid is complete, Mounties have told him they will be begin to clear the blockade using heavy equipment obtained with the help of the province.
“The ongoing blockade of our borders and our highways at Coutts will no longer be tolerated,” Kenney told a news conference in Calgary on Monday.
“Now that this very delicate security challenge has been resolved successfully by the police, broader enforcement measures will commence.”
—The Canadian Press