Man Convicted Of Firearms Offences After Acting As “Straw Purchaser”
A man has been convicted of firearms offences after officers with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit – British Columbia (CFSEU-BC) conducted a firearm trafficking investigation in early 2019.
In early 2019, the RCMP-led National Weapons Enforcement Support Team (NWEST) collaborated with the CFSEU-BC’s Illegal Firearms Enforcement Team (IFET) to begin a firearm trafficking investigation into a suspected “straw purchaser”. Initial information alleged that during the previous year, from April 2018 to November 2018, the suspect had legally purchased 39 restricted firearms.
A “straw purchaser” is someone with a valid Possession and Acquisition License (PAL), but no criminal record, who is recruited by others, often those involved in crime, to obtain firearms for someone who otherwise could not. Those who are arranging the purchase through the straw purchaser do not want their name associated with the transaction because they have a criminal record, are banned from purchasing or owning firearms, or are, themselves, acting on behalf of others involved in crime.
The firearms, after initially acquired legally, are trafficked, sold in criminal markets and used in shootings. Straw purchasing, which NWEST advises they have seen more of the past 18 months, undermines the legal firearm acquisition and ownership process and law-abiding gun owners. Their criminal actions lead to these guns potentially ending up in the hands of those people who pose the greatest risks to public safety.
Investigators, in collaboration with policing partners, have noticed an increase in domestic straw purchasers over the last year, which have contributed to the distribution of legal firearms for a criminal purpose.
On February 14th, 2019 Coquitlam RCMP arrested the same suspect for an unrelated matter, at his residence, located in the 1300 hundred block of Soball Street, Coquitlam. While at the residence police observed numerous firearms not legally stored and seized them as part of their investigation.
When an individual legally purchases restricted firearms, it is a requirement for the individual purchasing the firearms to report to the provincial Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) where these firearms will be stored and that they are stored securely, as required by law. This male had 41 firearms registered in his name and was required to have them securely stored at this residence, in accordance with the Firearms Act Storage Regulations.
CFSEU IFET executed a search warrant at the residence in an attempt to locate the 41 firearms registered to the male. The search located one unrelated loaded handgun, receipts and registrations showing ownership of the 39 firearms, ammunition, and a ballistic vest. However, none of the 39 firearms purchased in 2018 were located and none of the firearms were reported to police as lost or stolen.
CFSEU-BC’s IFET arrested the man and recommended a number of firearms-related Criminal Code charges.
On February 18th, 2021, Ashton Dickinson, a 27-year-old Coquitlam resident, pleaded guilty to the following Criminal Code offences;
• Weapons Trafficking (sentenced to 3 years in jail and a mandatory 10- year firearms prohibition)
• Possession of a loaded/unloaded prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition (sentenced to 3 years in jail and a mandatory 10- year firearms prohibition)
The CFSEU-BC, along with its policing partners, continue to follow-up and are trying to locate the 39 outstanding firearms.
“Straw Purchasing and the illegal trafficking of firearms puts firearms in the hands of gang members and those who seek to put the public’s safety at the greatest risk,” says Sergeant Brenda Winpenny, Media Relations Officer for CFSEU-BC. “CFSEU-BC and our specialized teams, like IFET, are committed to working with our partners in public safety and firearms retailers to identify, investigate and arrest these individuals who threaten the safety of our public and undermine legal firearms ownership.”
Media Spokesperson: Sergeant Brenda Winpenny
Desk: (778) 290-4677
Cell: (604) 838-6800