A man and woman face nearly 200 criminal charges after Red Deer RCMP found 29 firearms and four crossbows stashed in a storage locker and a residence last month.
RCMP also found stolen dirt bikes, identity documents and electronics.
“This seizure is big,” said RCMP Supt. Ken Foster at a Monday morning news conference at the Red Deer RCMP detachment. “It sends an important message to those career criminals who are responsible for most of the crime in our community.
“The RCMP will continue to send this message again and again until the criminals get the message: change your ways or go back to jail.”
The weapons and other stolen goods were found during a pair of RCMP busts.
Shortly before 6 p.m. on Nov. 5, officers with the Red Deer Community Response Unit executed a search warrant on a storage locker at 4904 79th St.
Officers seized 25 rifles, three shotguns, four crossbows, two pellet guns, tools, bicycles, dirt bikes, chainsaws, a generator and electronics equipment.
On Nov. 25, RCMP investigators went to a Highland Green home on 58th Avenue and a search turned up numerous stolen items. A shotgun was found under a couch in the living room. Police also recovered a magazine from another weapon, a replica firearm, large amounts of ammunition, a laptop, Xbox game console, identity documents methamphetamine.
Most of the items had been reported after a series of recent break and enters.
Foster said the firearms were found in a number of “innocuous” places, including hockey, sleeping and ski bags. Eight of the guns had been reported stolen but the investigation continues.
One of the dirt bikes was reported stolen on Oct. 28 after a break and enter. The other was stolen out of Lacombe on Nov. 1.
Foster said the gun bust is one of the largest of its kind in Red Deer.
“That’s significant. We broke up an organized network that relies on regular property crime activity for their livelihood.
“Guns are used by drug traffickers and feed into the cycle of criminality and violence that accompany the drug trade.”
The arrests and seizures are examples of Project Pinpoint in action, say police.
“The crime reduction model we’re using is targeted and evidence-based,” said Foster, of Pinpoint. “We’re deploying our resources strategically by focusing on the people, locations and those issues that are causing the most problems in our community.”
Mayor Tara Veer praised the RCMP’s men and women.
“We are all very well aware of the fact that crime and public safety is the number one priority of our citizens,” said Veer at the news conference.
“It is, therefore, the number one priority of the City of Red Deer.”
Veer said the city’s position between two major cities and the provincial economy have created a unique challenge.
“I think we are realizing crime and a dynamic to our local crime that we’ve never experienced before.”
The mayor acknowledged that the community is “highly frustrated” with property crime.
However, Red Deer remains a safe community, she said. The number of persons crimes, such as assault and robbery, are trending downward.
“On the whole, I would say Red Deer is generally a safe community, although I would put a caveat on that in that we are challenged with property crime in our community.”
Veer said the arrests show that the two-year-old Project Pinpoint is working.
“As the dynamics of crime in our community continue to change then we will continue to adapt new strategies in order to attend to the number one concern of our citizens.”
Andrew Scott Charpentier, 25, and Kelsey Pearl Torpe, 25, each face 29 counts of unauthorized possession of a firearm, 28 counts of possession of a stolen firearm, 28 counts of careless use of a firearm or ammunition, seven counts of possession of stolen property as well as charges of unauthorized possession of a weapon, possession of a firearm with an altered serial number, illegal possession or trafficking in government documents and possession of crystal methamphetamine.
Charpentier is also facing an additional two counts of failing to comply with an undertaking to bring his charge total to 100. Torpe is facing 98 charges.
Both are scheduled to appear in Red Deer provincial court on Tuesday.