A rise in gun crime across Manitoba, to nearly twice the Canadian average, is linked to Winnipeg’s meth epidemic, police believe.

Officers seized 1,747 firearms from the streets of Winnipeg in 2018, jumping from 1,183 in 2017 and 773 in 2016.

Homemade gun crime is also on the rise. Winnipeg police have already seized 31 so-called zip guns this year, compared to 52 in 2018.

The improvised guns can be made from parts like metal piping or bits of bikes.

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Insp. Max Waddell with the Winnipeg Police Service organized crime unit told CTV Winnipeg that gun-related violence is on the rise in the province.

“In Manitoba we have one of the highest provincial rates of firearm-related violent crime at 48 victims per 100,000. That’s nearly double the Canadian average,” he said in a press conference Tuesday.

The city’s meth epidemic is linked to the upward trend for improvised guns, police believe.

A Winnipeg man and woman face weapons and meth charges after police busted a manufacturing operation Sunday.

Eleven homemade guns were seized before Leslie Randolph Beaulieu, 27, and Krista Marie Roulette, 38, were arrested.

“Our intelligence and sources tell us that many meth users want to be in possession of firearms, not only to protect themselves, but to protect their drug trade,” Waddell said.

“We’ve learned a lot of these meth users are seeking out individuals that are manufacturing these firearms, which is obviously very concerning, not only for law enforcement, but also for members of the public.”