Twenty-five handguns were seized at the Canadian border after a 50-year-old woman allegedly tried to enter from the U.S. with a stockpile of illegal weapons hidden in a gas tank, CTV Toronto has learned.

Sources tell CTV Toronto that an SUV was stopped at the Peace Bridge border crossing in Fort Erie, Ont., on Wednesday night. When police inspected the vehicle, they found the handguns hidden in the gas tank.

A female suspect from Toronto has been taken into custody. She faces several firearm-related charges, including importing firearms.

The border crossing is about 150 kilometres southeast of Toronto, where 45 people have died in shootings so far this year. That’s more than all fatal shootings in 2014 and 2015 combined.

Sources say the arrest was part of a larger Toronto police firearms investigation. But Toronto Police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray refused to elaborate.

“This is an ongoing investigation and we will not be able to provide any comment until it’s complete,” Gray told CTV Toronto in a statement.

Smuggling guns into Canada happens “every day” by a variety of means, according to crime specialist James Dubro.

“The demand in Canada with the supply in the United States makes it very, very tempting for people many times a day to try to get it over by car, by boat, by plane, by mail,” Dubro said.

Toronto police seized 726 crime guns in 2017. Of those, police were able to determine the country of origin for 328, or about half. American-made guns accounted for 180 of the illegal firearms. Another 148 came from within Canada.

Police seized a white Nissan Rogue and brought it to a garage in Fort Erie, Ont., on Thursday, where a local technician cut open the gas tank, according to Bill Marr, owner of Garrison Automotive Service.

“And when we pulled the top of the tank off you could see all the guns in the bottom of the gas tank,” Marr said.

Marr added that he didn’t know what might be inside the tank until he began to open it.

“We were just told contraband at first, they didn’t give us any disclosure until we started getting the tank down and cut the tank out and then we could see what was coming out of the gas tank,” he said.

Toronto has witnessed 342 shootings this year -- surpassing year-end numbers recorded in 2014, 2015 and 2017. At the current rate, the city is expected to surpass the 347 shootings recorded in 2016.

The female suspect is expected to make her first court appearance in Toronto next week.

With a report from CTV Toronto’s Tracy Tong