Canadian Police Arrest 11 With Batch of Weapons at Trucker Protest

Canadian police arrested and detained 11 people at one of the trucker protests against certain COVID-19 pandemic restrictions after finding a cache of weapons and ammunition.

The Alberta Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said in a news release that they were made aware of a small organized group at the Coutts protest and executed a search warrant on three trailers associated with the group. The search uncovered guns, body armor, a machete, ammunition and high-capacity magazines.

The so-called Freedom Convoy began as a demonstration against Canada's mandate that requires truckers to either get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 when crossing the U.S.-Canadian border or quarantine for two weeks. It has since expanded with others also opposing pandemic restrictions like mask mandates.

Bridge blockades and other disruptions had already resulted in some protest arrests, but the 11 detained by the Alberta RCMP became the newest additions.

Police said in the release that they received information that the organized group had access "to a cache of firearms with a large quantity of ammunition."

"The group was said to have a willingness to use force against the police if any attempts were made to disrupt the blockade. This resulted in an immediate and complex investigation to determine the extent of the threat and criminal organization," the release said.

In the early hours Monday, the Alberta RCMP executed the search warrant on the group's trailers, uncovering the cache of equipment and weapons that included 13 long guns and handguns. The 11 individuals were then arrested and detained, the release said.

The Alberta RCMP did not immediately name any of the individuals who had been arrested.

Canadian police arrested and detained 11 people at one of the trucker protests against certain COVID-19 pandemic restrictions after finding a cache of weapons and ammunition. Above, protesters block the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge from Windsor, Ontario, Canada, to Detroit on February 12, 2022. Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

A small part of the protest had shown a "militant mindset," according to the RCMP. The release cited an incident from the evening before when a large farm tractor and a semi truck from the blockade allegedly tried to ram a police vehicle.

The officer in the vehicle was able to move and avoid being struck.

"RCMP officers followed the suspects to a location where the protesters were gathered. The driver of the tractor was identified and we are actively working to locate him so he can be taken into custody. The Alberta RCMP have seized the farm tractor and semi truck involved in this incident," the release said.

The Coutts border crossing is one of several areas throughout Canada that has been affected by the protests and blockades. The Ambassador Bridge was reopened Sunday night after demonstrators blocked it for days, disrupting traffic and trade, but protesters and authorities remain in a standoff in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, the Washington Post reported.

The Freedom Convoy has also inspired an upcoming American version called the "MAGA Convoy," a reference to former president Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan, according to an email from the organizers. It is set to commence in Los Angeles on February 25 and make its way to Washington, D.C.

The Alberta RCMP encouraged anyone involved with the Coutts blockade to leave, and said that they would resume work to clear it.

Newsweek reached out to the Alberta RCMP for additional comment.

Update 2/14/22, 3:20 p.m. ET: This story was updated with additional information and background.