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Man gets 12 years for manufacturing, trafficking 3D-printed guns in Winnipeg

Manitoba provincial court is pictured on March 10, 2022. (CTV News Photo Danton Unger) Manitoba provincial court is pictured on March 10, 2022. (CTV News Photo Danton Unger)

A Winnipeg man has pleaded guilty to more than a dozen charges related to gun trafficking in the city, including manufacturing and selling 3D printed guns, one of which he claimed was used in a shooting at the Red River Ex last year.

During a sentencing hearing in a Manitoba courtroom on Tuesday, 24-year-old Blake Ellison-Crate pleaded guilty to 13 offences that happened between July 2021 and June 2022, including manufacturing and selling 3D-printed firearms.

In his decision, Judge Alain Huberdeau said this was a 'sophisticated commercial operation.'

“As we all know, firearms are inherently dangerous, given they are expressly designed to wound or kill,” Judge Huberdeau said while delivering his sentence. “Possessing them without a licence, manufacturing and trafficking them is both shocking and chilling, and is behaviour that violates all societal norms.”

According to an agreed statement of facts, the court heard RCMP officers had executed a search warrant at Ellison-Crate's home in September 2021. There they found a rifle, a revolver with no serial number, an iPad and two cellphones, among other things.

“Both devices contained social media messaging – messaging openly communicating firearms trafficking both prior to and subsequent to Ellison-Crate’s arrest by RCMP,” Huberdeau said in his review of the facts.

The investigation continued when, in Nov. 2021, the Winnipeg police was contacted by the Canada Border Services Agency about an intercepted package containing parts of firearms.

Months later, in June 2022, Winnipeg police arrested Ellison-Crate and executed another search warrant at his home, uncovering three 3D-printed handgun receivers, along with several other parts to firearms, and two cellphones.

“Upon reviewing the content of both seized phones, it was learned Ellison-Crate communicated with individuals through Kijiji for the purposes of recruiting for individuals to 3D-print handgun receivers on his behalf," Huberdeau said, adding Ellison-Crate would give these people the files he wanted printed, telling them they were video game controllers.

Even after he was arrested and incarcerated in June 2022, the court heard Ellison-Crate continued to conspire to traffic guns.

"This conspiracy was captured in numerous telephone communications recorded by the provincial correctional facility," Huberdeau said.

The judge said during these calls, Ellison-Crate would speak with a partner and would claim responsibility for having trafficked several firearms mentioned in police news releases and media reports.

Among those he took credit for, the court heard Ellison-Crate claimed he trafficked a 3D-printed Glock-pattern handgun he said was used by a teen who shot two people at the Red River Exhibition in June 2022.

READ MORE: 11-year-old boy injured in Red River Ex shooting: Winnipeg police

“It is clear that these are very serious offences,” Huberdeau said, adding the court will never know how many firearms Ellison-Crate manufactured and or trafficked.

“Although we will never know the true extent of the harm that he has committed and has inflicted on our community, we know that because of his actions, the streets and neighbourhoods of Winnipeg, as well as the province as a whole, will be a far less safer place."

Huberdeau endorsed a joint recommendation from the Crown and Defence for a global sentence of 44 years for all 13 charges. However, the judge ordered the sentences for all but two counts be served consecutively instead of concurrently, reducing the sentence to 12 years minus 298 days for time already served in custody.

After accepting the guilty plea, Huberdeau asked Ellison-Crate if he wanted to say anything.

"I just want to say I’m sorry,” Ellison-Crate told the judge. "It's going to take a long time to rebuild the relationships I’ve broken with my family. I hope one day they can forgive me."

In response, Huberdeau told Ellison-Crate he has left 'a trail of destruction' behind him.

“At the end of the day, we will never know in the end what type of damage and destruction that you’ve inflicted on this community," he said. Top Stories

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