Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto
Published Friday, November 2, 2018 6:00PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, November 2, 2018 9:02PM EDT
A 50-year-old woman from Toronto has been taken into custody after border officers found 25 guns hidden in the gas tank of a vehicle being driven from the U.S. into Canada, CTV News Toronto has learned.
Sources told CTV News Toronto that a white Nissan Rogue was stopped while trying to cross the Peace Bridge Wednesday night. Officers with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) flagged the vehicle and towed it to Garrison Automotive Service in Fort Erie, where mechanics were asked to assist in the inspection.
Bill Marr, the owner of the auto body shop, told CTV News Toronto that officers didn’t initially disclose what they were looking for.
“We took the fuel modules out at first and you could see that the contraband, the guns, were in there. And at that point they asked us to cut the tank open and when we pulled the top of the tank off you could see all the guns in the bottom of the gas tank,” Marr said.
“It was rather shocking and quite impressive that they were able to find those guns in there through the x-ray equipment, and it’s great that they took it off the street,” he said.
Marr said that that an officer stayed with the vehicle to secure the scene and authorities took photos and documented all the contraband. He said he saw 25 guns removed from the gas tank.
While removing a gas tank is not unusual for Marr, he said that finding contraband inside the tank is “not a regular day in the shop.”
Sources tell CTV News Toronto the seizure of the guns were part of a Toronto police firearms investigation.
“This is an ongoing investigation and we will not be able to provide any comment until it’s complete,” a spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service told CTV News Toronto.
According to data obtained from Toronto police, 726 crime guns were seized by the service in 2017. Authorities determined the source for about half of the guns. Of those, about half from the United States.
Crime specialist James Dubro says guns come and go across the border every day.
“The demand in Canada with the supply in the United States makes it very very tempting for people, many times a day, to try and get it over by car, by boat, by plane, by mail,” he said.
Sources say the suspect in this case is facing “several” firearm-related charges, including importing firearms.