B.C. gun runner sentenced in U.S. court

  • Jan. 30, 2016 7:00 a.m.

by Jennifer Saltman/Special to the Langley Advance

A 32-year-old man who bought guns in Washington state and then smuggled them into B.C. for resale has been sentenced to prison time.

Tyler Ryan Cuff pleaded guilty in October 2015 to one count of dealing firearms without a licence and was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Spokane to 30 months in custody, followed by three years of supervised release.

Cuff, who had been arrested in Langley, also forfeited firearms, ammunition and more than $15,000 in Canadian and U.S. currency seized during searches of his home.

According to a plea agreement that is part of Cuff’s U.S. court file, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) learned in December 2012 that Cuff — a resident of Oroville, Wash. who had dual citizenship — was buying numerous firearms at gun shows.

He claimed to be a gun collector, but was uninterested in boxes or accessories that came with guns (unusual for a gun collector) and purchased mostly handguns, none of which were considered particularly collectible.

The ATF received information that Cuff was taking guns into Canada to sell and that he often exchanged thousands of dollars of Canadian currency for U.S. currency at a time at a U.S. bank.

He had minimal earnings in Washington state.

He also had a number of friends in Osoyoos, B.C., and crossed into Canada 41 times in a 60-day period in the fall of 2012, though some crossings were work related.

The ATF worked with a gun seller to set up gun sales that Cuff had requested and had one of its undercover officers contact Cuff about buying guns.

Cuff’s Oroville home was searched during the investigation. Cuff admitted to buying guns but said he was selling them to Washington residents and denied taking firearms into Canada. Officers seized 37 pistols, 77 empty gun boxes, three long guns, 109 gun magazines, documents, a cellphone and several computers.

After the search, Cuff entered Canada and it’s believed he did not return to the U.S.

The plea agreement states that Cuff would typically pay $400 to $600 for guns in Washington and sell them in Canada for two or three times what he paid.

It also states that at least 13 of the firearms that Cuff purchased in Washington have been recovered at crime scenes in Canada.

In B.C., the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit began looking into Cuff’s activities after receiving a tip about him in May 2013. He was living in Osoyoos at the time.

In August 2013, an undercover officer met with Cuff, who (according to U.S. court documents) bragged about smuggling guns into Canada from the U.S. and offered to get an AK-47 for the officer.

He claimed to have made $100,000 selling guns in Canada. The officer ended up purchasing a Norinco MAK-90 rifle and several steroid kits from Cuff.

Cuff was arrested in Langley and charged with four weapons offences. Eight months later, he pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized and manufacturing or transferring a firearm.

Cuff’s sentencing is scheduled to take place in early February in provincial court in Surrey.

According to Cuff’s Washington state plea agreement, his U.S. sentence will run concurrent with the one imposed in Canada, and will be served in a Canadian institution.

Jennifer Saltman is a reporter with the Vancouver Province.

For more from the Province, click HERE.

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