The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested 13 people and seized over a dozen long guns, multiple handguns, ammunition, high-capacity magazines, a machete and body armor in an operation targeting a “small organized group” within the protest blockade near the U.S.-Canada border in Coutts, Alberta, authorities said.
Police made the arrests and seizures while executing a warrant after receiving information that the group had a cache of weapons and a large amount of ammunition, the RCMP said in a statement.
“The group was said to have a willingness to use force against the police if any attempts were made to disrupt the blockade,” the RCMP said.
The operation came hours after police allege that a semi-truck and a farm tractor tried to ram a police vehicle, police said.
It was not immediately clear if the arrests were connected with that incident or if any truckers were among the suspects. An RCMP spokesperson did not immediately respond to a call from FreightWaves.
Suspects ‘not part of the main group,’ says protest spokesperson
The operation came a little over two weeks after the protests began at the Coutts border over COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates. The border has either been closed or subjected travelers to lengthy delays, causing significant disruptions to freight moving between Alberta and the U.S. via Montana, including cattle and beef.
Jory Evans, a spokesperson for the protesters, said in a video streamed via Facebook that the persons arrested were “not part of the main group or known necessarily.”
“Nobody knows if they were just here to do their own thing if they were planted — we have no idea, right,” Evans said. “So … don’t be jumping to conclusions on everything. If they did have ill intent, then we’re glad they’re gone.”
The arrests came a day after police in Windsor, Ontario, cleared the protest that had shut down the Ambassador Bridge, the busiest commercial border crossing between the U.S. and Canada, for a week. Traffic resumed early Monday.
The blockade in Coutts is part of a wave of protests in Canada that originally started in response to the vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers. Another protest has continued to block the border linking Emerson, Manitoba, and Pembina, North Dakota.
Other protests have disrupted roads leading to border crossings in British Columbia and Ontario.
Around 400 trucks remain in Ottawa, Ontario, more than two weeks after the Freedom Convoy arrived.
(Editor’s note: This article was updated to reflect further information provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that a total of 13 people were arrested. Police originally stated that 11 people had been arrested.)
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