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A Canadian special forces soldier convicted in connection with the theft of equipment will be released from the military.
Cpl. Pedro Collier, who was assigned to the Joint Task Force 2 counter-terrorism unit at Dwyer Hill, was found guilty in August of possession of stolen property exceeding $5,000 and possession of a prohibited device.
Between December 2015 and March 2017, Collier took approximately $23,000 worth of equipment from the special forces, including jackets, a global positioning system, backpacks, watches, a tent, a solar charger, a fan, kitchen sets, hoodies, generators, saws, boots, and a pouch to carry magazines for firearms. He also took two C7 rifle magazines, capable of holding 30 bullets, as well as hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
“As a result of Corporal Pedro Collier’s conviction, the Canadian Armed Forces conducted an administrative review of the member’s file to determine the most appropriate administrative action to be taken,” explained military spokesperson Maj Amber Bineau. “In this circumstance, the Review Authority’s decision is to release the member from the CAF.”
“The member is in the process of releasing,” she added. “To respect the member’s privacy, we will not disclose details of the release.”
The agreed statement of facts on record with the Ontario court also pointed to allegations of a larger problem of theft within special forces. “Mr. Collier was handed these items (in some cases by more senior people) and told to just take them,” the statement noted. “He took them knowing that they did not belong to him.”
“Mr. Collier informed police that there was a prevalent culture within CANSOFCOM of simply taking items from the employer,” the statement added.
CANSOFCOM refers to Canadian Special Operations Forces Command and includes Joint Task Force 2, a counterterrorism and special operations unit in Ottawa; the 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron and the Canadian Special Operations Regiment, both in Petawawa, Ont., and the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit, a Trenton, Ont.-based organization that deals with weapons of mass destruction.
“Military police, including the National Investigation Services, are continuing to investigate several other members of CANSOFCOM for their participation in related behaviour,” the court statement noted.
Collier was given a suspended sentence and put on 12 months of probation.
Military police charged Collier on Oct. 29, 2018. It’s unclear exactly how the corporal was able to take all of the equipment from the Joint Task Force 2 base at Dwyer Hill without being detected, but as a supply technician he would have had access to much of the unit’s inventory. JTF2 is Canada’s secretive counterterrorism unit.
The court statement, however, noted that Collier had little use for the equipment so he started to sell some of the items on eBay. In total he sold around $4,000 worth of gear.
The scheme started to unravel when on March 3, 2017 another member of CANSOFCOM discovered that someone was selling equipment on eBay that appeared similar to the gear being issued to Canadian special forces troops, according to the court document. CANSOFCOM says around that time its supply management personnel had noticed discrepancies in their inventory and had begun making verification checks to try to understand whether equipment was missing or had been misplaced or mislabelled.
After rumours started circulating among special forces soldiers that an investigation had been started, Collier confessed to taking the items from his workplace. He also revealed to police the location of the equipment he hadn’t yet sold. At no time did Collier sell or attempt to sell weapons, the court statement noted.
Collier paid back $4,000. In addition, he donated $1,000 to charity.
The corporal has been a member of the Canadian Forces since 2005. He joined CANSOFCOM in 2015.
Over the past three years military police have conducted six other investigations into alleged theft at CANSOFCOM, which is made up of a number of special forces units. In two cases equipment had been misplaced; in three cases no suspects were identified or there was not enough evidence to lay charges, and in another case a charge was laid but not proceeded with as the individual left the Canadian Forces.
In addition, during the same period there were two investigations undertaken by units themselves within the special forces command. In one case there was an allegation a CANSOFCOM member took an item from another special forces soldier but no charge was laid. In another case, it was determined a CANSOFCOM member’s actions did not constitute an offence but administrative action was nonetheless taken against the individual.
The Canadian special forces leadership was warned back in 2012 that it wasn’t properly tracking its equipment, according to a DND audit. At that time, one of the special forces units couldn’t account for $8 million to $10 million in gear and auditors warned more work was needed to ensure equipment was properly catalogued in the military inventory system.
After that audit, the special forces command said it intended to improve how it tracked its gear. The command’s equipment purchases are much smaller in quantity and cost than the regular Canadian Forces, but its units tend to acquire leading-edge technology.
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