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Saanich gun embezzler charged with firearms trafficking

Saanich police say the Island Outfitters employee who stole 160-plus firearms from his employer also sold a handful of them online. In Canada, weapons trafficking comes with a mandatory three-year prison sentence, if the employee is found guilty.  - Kyle Slavin/News staff
Saanich police say the Island Outfitters employee who stole 160-plus firearms from his employer also sold a handful of them online. In Canada, weapons trafficking comes with a mandatory three-year prison sentence, if the employee is found guilty.
— image credit: Kyle Slavin/News staff

The Saanich gun enthusiast who stole more than a quarter-million-dollars worth of firearms and hunting gear from his employer now faces weapons trafficking charges, after police learned he sold a number of the stolen guns.

More than 159 weapons were recovered last month at the home of Lucky Jhagra, a former employee at Island Outfitters who police allege purchased the items on behalf of the store, then forged transfer papers to add them to his personal collection.

Saanich police this week said several more guns that were taken from Island Outfitters were not recovered at the home, as they had since been sold online.

Sgt. Dean Jantzen says police have tracked six of those weapons to homes in the Capital Region, and are in the process of recovering them. More guns however, were illegally sold to buyers outside of B.C., and recovering those will require the assistance of other law enforcement agencies in Canada.

Though Jantzen said tracking all the stolen items has been a "logistical nightmare" for detectives, as well as B.C.'s Chief Firearms Officers, he says the unusual fact that the employee had registered all the stolen weapons with Canadian Firearms Registry has helped in the investigation.

"Every single one of these (trafficking) charges stems from records obtained through the registry," Jantzen said. Ownership of all the guns sold online was transferred using the proper documentation.

"The stolen items were duly documented and registered, so they are all quite traceable," he said.

The new weapons trafficking charges were approved last Friday, and a warrant for Jhagra's arrest was issued. He turned himself in to Saanich police on Monday, and was expected to appear in court Tuesday.

Among the items sold online were pistols, rifles and shotguns.

Firearms trafficking comes with a mandatory three-year minimum prison sentence, if the suspect is found guilty in court.

Jhagra, 40, now faces four counts of weapons trafficking, and two each of theft over $5,000 and possessing a weapon obtained through an offence.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

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