Vernon man facing 17 charges following inter-agency investigation

Vernon RCMP

VERNON - A Vernon man is facing 17 criminal charges following a police investigation that began with a shipment of heroin landing at the Vancouver International Airport.

Canada Border Services air cargo officers intercepted a large quantity of heroin originating from Thailand Jan. 8 at the Vancouver Airport, according to a release issued by the B.C. RCMP. Border services referred the matter to the RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime members whose investigation quickly led them to a Vernon, B.C. residence belonging to Ronald Charles Learning. Learning was involved in a massive international drug smuggling ring that was busted several years ago. 

On Jan. 13, 2015, a search warrant was executed at Learning’s residence. Several items were seized, including four loaded handguns, over $10,000 in cash, along with various types and amounts of both prescription and non-prescription drugs,.

“This matter remains under investigation but the successes so far are the result of efficient collaboration between CBSA, RCMP Federal policing, Vernon RCMP and Kelowna RCMP,” federal crime unit inspector Brian Gateley said. “Public safety is a priority and in this case the rapid coordination of our law enforcement resources was critical in preventing a substantial amount of heroin from reaching the streets of our local communities. Dangerous and illegal firearms have been seized and the flow of harmful drugs in the area has been disrupted.”

Vancouver International Airport District Director Sari Hellsten said the diligence of air cargo officers means the narcotics will never make it into our communities.

“This interception triggered an investigation which has led to significant charges and we are proud to work with our partners on this case,” Hellsten said.

Learning, 31, remains in custody and is facing 17 charges relating to weapons offences, possession of stolen property and breaches. 

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

—This story was edited at 1:45 p.m. Jan. 28 to add that Learning was arrested in connection with an international drug smuggling ring several years ago. 

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Editor,   I am concerned by significant inaccuracies that could compromise both officer and public safety, in the November 30th Infonews article by Charlotte Helston on RCMP staffing in Vernon. To set the record straight, I do
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