By Lethbridge Herald on September 3, 2020.
A 53-year-old Picture Butte man has been charged with various weapons-related offences for allegedly using a 3D printer to illegally produce firearms, and for attempting to traffic them.
The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) announced the arrest of the man and seizure of the firearms on Thursday.
Lethbridge ALERT team leader S-Sgt. Leon Borbandy said while 3D printed weapons had been seized in other police investigations, the charges laid of producing and trafficking these types of weapons were a first, to his knowledge, in Alberta.
“The investigation began after information was received about a suspect allegedly manufacturing and trafficking in firearm parts,” explained Borbandy. “I am not in a position to discuss specific operational techniques, other than to say it was a multifaceted endeavour. It is alleged the firearms’ parts were being manufactured using commercially available 3D-printing technology. Two 3D printers, blueprints and designs were seized from the suspect’s residence in Picture Butte. In addition, a variety of manufactured firearms’ parts were seized from the home including pistol lower frame receivers, an assault-style rifle frame receiver, a bump stock for converting a semi automatic firearm into an automatic firearm, and silencers.”
Borbandy went on to say the seized firearms were sent to the RCMP Science and Identification Services lab for examination and ballistics testing.
“The preliminary results confirm the 3D printed parts were functional,” he confirmed, “and that criminal charges were warranted.”
Borbandy explained this point further in response to questions from local media.
“The parts were functional,” he explained, “and they were able to create functional firearms out of them, including the bump stock.”
Borbandy also confirmed there was no evidence of complete weapons found at the scene, and no evidence at this time suggests any complete weapons were ever sold by the suspect. The investigation, however, is still ongoing, he said
“It is a very rare occurrence to encounter 3D-printed (firearm) components,” Borbandy stated. “Other police agencies have encountered completed 3D-printed firearms, sometimes referred to as ‘ghost guns.’
“This is a concerning seizure,” he added, “because these ghost guns have no serial numbers and are difficult to trace. It is an example how technology can pose new threats and challenges to law enforcement.”
Borbandy said they were still investigating the intent of the suspect in creating such weapons components.
Bump stocks were banned in the United States in 2018 following the Las Vegas massacre after gunman Stephen Paddock killed 58 people using the device to turn his conventional long guns into full auto repeaters. They are also banned in Canada. Silencers are also similarly banned in Canada.
According to Borbandy it is not illegal to buy certain weapons parts like barrels, stocks or grip replacements even without a firearms licence, but it is illegal to attempt to purchase or manufacture the components of weapons where the lower trigger and magazine areas are located. In this case, the suspect apparently found the plans for making these components online.
Dan Forsyth of Picture Butte is charged with offering to traffic firearms, manufacturing a restricted firearm, manufacturing a non-restricted firearm, manufacturing a prohibited device, possession of firearms for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a prohibited device for the purpose of trafficking, unauthorized possession of a non-restricted firearm, unauthorized possession of a restricted firearm, unauthorized possession of a prohibited weapon, unauthorized possession of a prohibited device, and possession of a weapon contrary to a probation order.
Forsyth’s next court appearance will be on Oct. 7.
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