Edmonton man gets eight years in prison for role in weapons trafficking scheme

An Edmonton man who pleaded guilty in Alberta’s first case of “straw purchasing” received an eight-year prison sentence Thursday for his role in an illegal weapons trafficking scheme. 

Justin Shipowich, 38, will serve five years in prison for possession for the purpose of weapons trafficking. 

The ruling is precedent setting in Alberta, as this is the first such case to make its way through the courts.

The chief justice of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, Mary Moreau, also imposed a three-year consecutive prison term for cocaine trafficking. 

Shipowich also received a three-year concurrent sentence on a heroin trafficking charge, and a one-year concurrent sentence on a fraud charge. 

He will serve a total of seven years behind bars, having received credit for one year of time already spent in custody.

Shipowich is also prohibited for life from owning firearms, and will have to submit a DNA sample to a national database. 

Moreau said the large number of weapons purchased, and the fact that only five guns have been recovered, were aggravating factors. 

According to an agreed statement of facts, Shipowich had a restricted firearm licence when he purchased 40 restricted firearms between June and September 2016.

The firearms, intended for the black market, included 39 handguns and one semi-automatic rifle.

The judge also considered Shipowich’s guilty plea, and his age and minor criminal record as mitigating factors. 

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