Meth, sawed-off shotguns seized after vehicle stolen in Cochrane stopped near Hinton

Two southern Alberta men face charges after RCMP pulled them over in a stolen vehicle Monday morning as part of an impaired driving investigation.

Hinton RCMP responded to a location on Highway 40, south of the town of Hinton, shortly after 7:30 a.m. following complaints of a suspected drunk driver.

Officers located the suspect vehicle and determined it had been stolen from Cochrane, roughly 400 kilometres away.

Two men — 29-year-old James Fredrick Benard of Medicine Hat and 39-year-old Donald Benjamin Birnie-Brown of Three Hills —were arrested and the subsequent search resulted in the seizure of:

  • 16 ounces of methamphetamine;
  • An ounce of fentanyl;
  • Two sawed-off shotguns;
  • A prohibited magazine;
  • Ammunition;
  • Machetes;
  • Knives; and,
  • Break-in instruments.

“This is a significant quantity of methamphetamine which has been removed off our streets,” said Sgt. Graham Gurski, acting detachment commander, in a statement. “The seizure of these illegal drugs and firearms will have a meaningful impact for the residents of Hinton and Yellowhead County.

“We will continue to focus our efforts on ensuring these dangerous items do not reach our communities as we press forward with our crime reduction initiatives.”

Benard faces several charges related to drug trafficking, stolen property and unauthorized weapon possession. He remains in custody ahead of his May 4 appearance in Hinton provincial court.

Birnie-Brown’s lone charge was possession of a firearm while prohibited. He was released from custody ahead of his scheduled appearance in Hinton provincial court on May 4.

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