In what is believed to be a first in the province, according to law enforcement officials, a Picture Butte, Alta. man has been charged for allegedly 3D-printing firearm parts.

Started in April 2019, the investigation involved Lethbridge’s organized crime team and the RCMP’s National Weapons Enforcement Support Team (NWEST).

It culminated with a 53-year-old man from Picture Butte, Alta. being arrested Aug. 18.

"This is the first time I'm aware of where charges have been laid in relation to 3D components in Alberta," said ALERT Lethbridge Staff Sgt. Leon Borbandy. "In regard to his intent, that's part of the investigation and that will be for the courts to rule on his specific intent, but the investigation revolved around the manufacturing and alleged trafficking."

Borbandy said 3D printed firearms are often referred to as "ghost guns."

"This is a concerning seizure as these ghost guns have no serial numbers and are difficult to trace," he said.

"To my knowledge, there is no lawful reason to have these 3D printed parts and the concern is they would be used for crimes, making their traceability very difficult."

A search of a home uncovered multiple 3D printers, along with an assortment of manufactured firearm parts, according to police, including:

  • Pistol lower frames;
  • An assault rifle receiver and frame;
  • A bump stock for converting a semi-automatic firearm to fully automatic; and
  • Silencers.

The seized items were forwarded to the RCMP Forensic Science and Identification Services lab for examination and ballistics testing. Preliminary results confirmed the 3D-printed parts were functional.

Dan Forsyth, 53, 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 prohibition order.

He is scheduled to appear in court next Oct. 7.

Picture Butte is located about 200 kilometres south of Calgary.