by Jennifer Saltman
Special to the Langley Advance
A man who smuggled guns into Canada from Washington state and sold a rifle to an undercover officer in Langley has been sentenced to 42 months in prison.
Tyler Ryan Cuff, 32, pleaded guilty in April 2014 to possessing a prohibited firearm and gun trafficking. He was sentenced in provincial court in Surrey on Thursday.
In May 2013, police received a tip that Cuff, who has dual Canadian and U.S. citizenship, was smuggling guns from Washington into B.C. The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit began an undercover investigation called Project E-Passkey.
Investigators learned that Cuff was legally purchasing guns in Washington and then smuggling them through the border crossing between Oroville, Wash., and Osoyoos.
Cuff was arrested on Aug. 29, 2014, in the Walnut Grove area of Langley after he sold an undercover officer a semi-automatic Norinco MAK-90 rifle.
Several months prior to the B.C. investigation into Cuff, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had learned that he was claiming to be a gun collector and buying numerous guns at gun shows, and that he was taking those guns into Canada to resell.
A U.S. court document 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 alleges that at least 13 of the firearms Cuff purchased in Washington have been recovered at crime scenes in Canada.
The bureau set up its own undercover operation and then searched Cuff’s home in Oroville, seizing 40 guns, 77 empty gun boxes and 109 gun magazines.
Cuff pleaded guilty in U.S. court to one count of dealing firearms without a licence and was sentenced in January to 42 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
According to Cuff’s plea agreement, his U.S. sentence will run concurrently with the one imposed in Canada, and will be served in a Canadian institution. Judge Peder Gulbransen confirmed that arrangement when delivering his sentence on Thursday.
Gulbransen said selling a prohibited firearm in Canada is a serious offence and deserves a deterrent sentence, but he noted that Cuff is a relatively young man with no criminal record who co-operated immediately with authorities and pleaded guilty early in the legal process.
Gulbransen said he saw no reason to depart from the “very thoughtful and careful” joint submission of 42 months, and said that it was a fit sentence.
Cuff thanked his lawyer as he was led out of the courtroom by a sheriff.
– Jennifer Saltman is a reporter for the Vancouver Province