Prince George RCMP find ‘staggering collection’ of firearms after customs officers intercept package

Police unveiled a "staggering collection" of firearms Wednesday, seized from a Prince George home following an investigation that began when border guards came across two suspicious packages.

Karl Haus, 53, now faces 17 charges in relation to the haul from a Prospect Point home in the Hart Highlands where police uncovered nine rifles — a fully-automatic M-16 and a fully-automatic AK-47 among them — as well as three handguns, two of which were loaded, and two shotguns.

They also found five 100-round capacity drum magazines, 50 assault rifle magazines, four bullet proof vests and two "morning stars" — spiked metal balls attached with chains to wooden handles.

Investigators also discovered 31,000 rounds of large and small calibre ammunition. It would take slightly more than eight-and-a-half hours to fire off all the rounds at a shot per second.

The investigation began Sept. 9 when Canada Border Services Agency officers intercepted the two packages at the Toronto International Mail Centre. The packages originated in Germany and were destined for Prince George and while the accompanying information cards said "other machinery," officers found a lower receiver, bolt carrier, trigger assembly and selector switch for a Colt M-16 A1.

"The Colt M-16 is an automatic military assault rifle," said Harald Wuigk, CBSA assistant director of investigations, during a press conference Wednesday at the North District RCMP detachment.

"In the wrong hands, it's a very dangerous weapon."

The information was passed onto the RCMP federal serious and organized crime unit and after the parts were determined to be prohibited, investigators secured a search warrant for the home and, on Sept. 25, they encountered more than they expected.

"The warrant, at the time, was based on information found and shared by the Canada Border Services Agency," said Supt. Derek Simmonds of the RCMP federal serious and organized crime unit. "It led investigators to believe an individual in Prince George was attempting to import prohibited weapons or weapon parts from Europe.

"What officers found, though, was a staggering collection of firearms and other weapons that had the potential to inflict significant harm."

The weapons were found in various spots throughout the property and as a result, five counts of unsafe storage are among the charges Haus faces. He also faces four counts each of possessing a prohibited weapon and possessing a prohibited weapon either loaded or with readily accessible ammunition, and two counts each of importing a prohibited firearm and possessing a firearm with an altered serial number.

None of the charges have yet been proven in court.

"The seizure of these weapons has had a direct impact on public safety," said North District RCMP Commander Supt. Rod Booth. "Past experience time and time again has demonstrated that a single firearm has the potential to cause serious harm or death to multiple people.

"In addition to the fear that carelessly stored loaded firearms could result in a tragic accident, there is a much greater fear for police that all these weapons could be used to commit criminal acts that could be reasonably expected to cause significant harm to people.

"Any weapon that is not properly stored runs the risk of being stolen and falling into the hands of organized criminals. Military-grade weapons in the hands of criminals or those with sinister intent dramatically increases the risk to the public."

RCMP declined to comment why Haus had so many weapons and from where he got them specifically, saying the case remains under investigation. However, they did say it appears Haus was acting on his own and there is no link to other gun seizures police have conducted.

Wuigk said the majority of weapons imported illegally come from the United States.

"However, we do see from time-to-time weapons being imported from Europe as well," Wuigk said.

Four law enforcement agencies were involved in the investigation: Canada Border Services Agency; RCMP federal serious and organized crime unit; Prince George RCMP and the provincially-funded combined forces special enforcement unit.

Haus, who is not in custody, is scheduled to make a first appearance in Prince George provincial court on Jan. 15.

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