Story courtesy of our sister newspaper in Langley, BC, The Langley Times (www.thelangleytimes.com)
An Osoyoos man is facing charges for allegedly smuggling guns into Canada from the U.S. that were being sold to various gang-related groups in the Okanagan and Lower Mainland.
Tyler Ryan Cuff, 30, was charged with two counts of unauthorized possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm and one count of careless use of a firearm contravening storage regulations and firearms trafficking.
“We all know that guns in the hands of gangsters put everyone at risk,” said Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia Sgt. Lindsey Houghton. “We are continuing to work with law enforcement partners across North America to stop gun violence in our neighbourhoods and by stopping the flow of guns going to gangsters we are making communities around British Columbia safer.”
Cuff’s arrest is the result of an investigation that began with a tip in May and CFSEU-BC began an undercover investigation, dubbed Project E-Passkey after it was learned the man was living in Osoyoos. Investigators allege Cuff used his dual citizenship status to legally purchase firearms at various Washington State gun shows and using a truck and car to smuggle the guns through the Oroville, Wash./Osoyoos border crossing.
Houghton alleges the dozens of guns, believed to be mostly Glock handguns were being smuggled. Cuff, who has no criminal record and was not previously known to police, was arrested on Aug. 29 without incident in Langley after allegedly selling an undercover police officer a semi-automatic assault-style Norinco MAK-90 rifle and several steroid kits.
The CFSEU-BC investigation is ongoing and they are currently examining whether any firearms Cuff is alleged to have smuggled and sold have any connections to other police investigations, how many firearms may have been brought into Canada and how many guns may have been sold and to whom.
“The Canada Border Services Agency is proud to be working closely with other law enforcement agencies as part of CFSEU-BC. These partnerships are invaluable and are proving to be essential in the detection, interception, and prosecution of those involved in the conduct of illegal activity,” said Canada Border Services Agency Executive Director, Pacific Region, Kim Scoville. “Today’s announcement is another example of the success of these initiatives.”
Cuff was released from custody and his next court appearance is on Sept. 13 at 8:30 a.m. in Surrey Provincial Court.
Last October two Penticton men were arrested for their alleged involvement in an international gun trafficking ring, and subsequently released. During the vehicle stop, officers found seven firearms and prohibited firearms-related devices including a silencer in the car.
This was part of a 10-month investigation that also began after a tip. Undercover police officers purchased numerous guns and accessories off of Craigslist that are illegal in Canada in the investigation named Project E-Nimbus. The now deceased Vernon man, Riley Stewart Kotz, was the primary target and was formally arrested and charged with 34 firearms related offenses. Officers also searched houses in the 400 block of Bennett Street and 200- block of Sandstone Crescent in Penticton, a storage locker in the 9900 block of Victoria South Road in Summerland and a home in Vernon. From these properties they seized close to 40 firearms. Simultaneous to the arrests, warrants were executed in Pace, Florida where a woman associated with the suspect was arrested.
(Cuff has dual citizenship and had been living in Oroville prior to moving to Osoyoos in January, according to authorities.)