NIAGARA FALLS, ONT. - A Niagara Regional Police officer, a former NRP officer and another man have been charged with what police call a “large-scale smuggling scheme” to bring cheese and other foods into Canada from the U.S.
Const. Scott Heron, 39, is charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence and breach of trust. Both allegations are Criminal Code offences. He is also charged with Customs Act violations, including making false or deceptive statements, acquiring illegally imported goods and smuggling.
Casey Langelaan, 48, who was also a Niagara Regional Police officer and was suspended under the Police Services Act on June 26, 2012, has now resigned from the service.
Langelaan and Bernie Pollino, 44, each face a conspiracy to smuggle charge, along with several Customs Act charges.
Niagara Regional Police announced the charges Thursday, four days after news reports surfaced that there was an internal investigation into allegations that police officers had been involved in smuggling cheese.
Police say the investigation began in January 2012 and involved Niagara police, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Canada Border Services Agency.
Police said their investigation revealed more than $200,000 worth of cheese — which is less expensive in the U.S. — had been purchased in the U.S. and distributed in Canada. It would have made the smugglers an estimated profit of more than $165,000, a police report says.
Police Chief Jeff McGuire said the alleged smuggling operation came to the force's attention because of another case.
Another Fort Erie, Ont., officer, Const. Geoff Purdie, is accused of smuggling steroids and other drugs into Canada. U.S. authorities charged him with conspiracy to export controlled substances with intent to distribute. His case is still before the courts, a Homeland Security spokesman said.
"As a result of the investigation into the Purdie incident, the other three people came to light, not necessarily being involved directly with Purdie, but it's information that came up and the investigators uncovered it," McGuire said.
Police say the smuggled cheese made its way to some businesses on this side of the border. No businesses have been charged.