Winnipeg police have begun an investigation into alleged explosives trafficking in the city, an extensive probe that’s swept multiple locations in the city and resulted in the seizure of numerous devices.
On Monday, the Winnipeg Police Service confirmed its presence last week on College Ave. was in connection with an investigation into the alleged trafficking and selling of the emulsion explosives.
No arrests have been made and police spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen said investigators are still in the process of doing interviews after they raided a home in the 800-block of College last Friday.
Michalyshen said police seized “a quantity” of explosives at locations in the city and were then led to the home on College.
“I acknowledge that we identified and we seized explosives prior to attending College,” he said.
Michalyshen said the explosives are typically used in mining operations. He described the explosives as “sausage sticks,” approximately 30-35 centimetres long and 2.5-centimetre thick flex tubes with metal crimped ends.
“Obviously it’s something pretty unique, it’s not something that we’re talking about on a regular basis, thankfully,” he said. “To what extent, for what purpose, who’s directly involved, all are questions that we’re working incredibly hard to sort through.”
A source told the Winnipeg Sun another police operation took place on Talbot Avenue last Friday was connected to the investigation, although Michalyshen said he could not confirm other locations involved.
Michalyshen said the possibility of gang ties to the explosives is “a component we’re looking into.”
“I’m not dismissing that on any level,” he said. “Definitely a component of our investigation would be gang related or gang activity, for sure.”
Michalyshen said police have dealt with investigations into explosives before — including where someone has made a device merely to look like an explosive — but said he couldn’t recall a case of alleged trafficking. Multiple local experts in criminology reached by the Winnipeg Sun also said they hadn’t heard of such a case in the past.
A call to Orica Canada, which supplies many of the explosives for mining companies in Manitoba, was not immediately returned.
Both Emergency Measures Organization and the Office of the Fire Commissioner, through a spokesman, deferred comment to Winnipeg police and RCMP. A request placed with the RCMP was not returned.
Michalyshen warned if anyone does come in contact with the devices they should not handle them and instead phone police at 204-986-6219 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).
“Initially these items, as they’re manufactured for a specific purpose, are designed to be safe,” he said. “If they’re handled in a safe and secure manner, they’re safe. However, if they’re mishandled or if someone is in possession of them inappropriately or doesn’t know exactly what they’re dealing with, there’s always that volatility putting them or others at risk.”