By Ismail Shakil
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada said on Wednesday it intercepted gun parts sent into the country through international mail, leading authorities to seize "ghost guns" and related 3-D printing equipment from two locations in British Columbia.
Ghost guns are privately made firearms that are not marked with a serial number and are difficult for law enforcement to trace.
Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said in a statement ghost guns pose a serious risk and are becoming easier to manufacture and difficult to trace when used by criminals.
Border services officers in Vancouver and Toronto found firearms parts arriving by international mail and then tracked down people importing those parts, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said in a statement.
The CBSA did not say where the mail was sent from.
Authorities searching a British Columbia home in April seized a 3D printing machine making a lower receiver for a handgun, along with six more handgun parts with no serial number.
In a separate search at another British Columbia location, investigators seized a loaded 9mm handgun with no serial number, nine non-restricted long guns, among others, CBSA said. Two people were arrested after the raids but were released pending investigations.
Canada's gun homicide rate is much lower than the rate in the United States, where rules on buying firearms are looser, but it's higher than the rates of many other rich countries and has been rising, according to official data.
Ottawa has been trying to combat rising gun violence through domestically focused policies, such as a ban on handgun purchases. But hard-to-trace smuggled guns from the United States pose a bigger challenge to Canada's problem, Reuters reported last month.
Between Jan. 1, 2019 and June 30, 2022, the CBSA in the Pacific region seized 581 firearms at ports of entry and in international mail shipments.
(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Editing by David Gregorio)