Langley man accused in string of arsons

Police say they have caught the man behind an arson campaign.

A Langley man has been charged in relation to more than a dozen arsons that targeted people associated to the Justice Institute of B.C.

Vincent Eric Gia-Hwa Cheung, 40, was arrested Sept. 18 in Burnaby, said Staff Sgt. Lindsay Houghton, spokesperson for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.

Between April 2011 and January 2012, fifteen people were targeted by shootings and arsons across the Lower Mainland. There were no attacks in Langley, but incidents took place in most Lower Mainland communities, from West Vancouver to Surrey, Maple Ridge to Vancouver and Richmond.

Cheung has been charged with five counts of arson to a vehicle, eleven counts of arson to a house, one count of discharging a firearm into a car, three counts of firing a gun at a house, one count of arson for at railer, and two counts of arson within a residence.

Also charged is Thurman Ronley Taffe, a 54-year-old Burnaby man whom police alleged was contracted to commit arson.

Taffe faces one count of arson in relation to a house.

Both men are being held in custody and were scheduled to appear in Vancouver Supreme Court Monday, Sept. 21.

“We know there are still people who have additional information about these offences and this investigation is continuing with further arrests and charges anticipated,” said CFSEU’s Chief Officer Kevin Hackett. “The investigation was complicated and made even more challenging by the efforts of the accused to disguise their intent through cunning and calculated misdirection.”

The attacks, including arsons and shootings, ended more than three years ago.

In July 2011, in the middle of the arson spree, a threatening email was sent to the Justice Institute, a post-secondary institution in New Westminster that trains civic police and other emergency responders.

The threats referenced nine people, and all of but one had already been targeted by the arson and gunfire campaign, police said.

An investigation established that an ICBC employee had queried the license plate numbers of all 15 victims.

In Jan. 2012, three suspects connected to an arson in Surrey were identified, and that led to a person suspected to have contracted for the arson.

The investigation continued, but it was only between Dec. 31 2014 and Jan. 13, 2015, that new events took place. A number of the victims received suspicious letters, one of them containing a warning that the attacks would begin again soon.

So far, police have not commented on what motivated the vendetta against the victims.

Police from all over the region collaborated on the investigation.

 

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