This photo shows some of the microelectronics recovered during the RCMP sting. (RCMP )

It took two years, a special RCMP crime unit and an investigation with its own code name that involved multiple agencies, to in order to charge four people who allegedly stole and illegally exported controlled space technology and goods from a Waterloo, Ont. company, police say.

RCMP announced charges Monday against four people and two Canadian companies accused of illegally exporting controlled goods to two Chinese companies, that could help enhance China's satellite cameras.   

Investigators with RCMP's Serious and Organized Crime Unit in Kitchener opened the file — which they dubbed "Project OSensor" — in 2014.

It started with a written complaint from Teledyne DALSA Inc., a Waterloo company that describes itself as an "international leader in high performance digital imaging."

The RCMP say intense digging exposed two employees, who worked at Teledyne DALSA at the time, who teamed up with a former employee. Those three people allegedly set up a company to get a contract to make a microelectronics sensor that could help improve satellite cameras - and then sold those technologies to two Chinese companies, one of which was state-owned. A fourth person who worked with one of those Chinese companies was also charged. 

Those four people now face several charges, including fraud over $5000 and conspiracy to commit fraud over $5000.

The Canadian Space Agency, the Department of National Defence, Global Affairs Canada, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI were among the agencies involved in the investigation, police said.

"This investigation is an example of foreign governments having an interest in Canadian-based controlled technology," said Superintendent Jamie Jagoe, Southwest District Commander for the RCMP in Ontario, in a press release.

"And it highlights the RCMP's commitment to keeping Canadians safe from the potential misuse of that technology."

The RCMP have charged Arthur Xin Pang, of Pierrefonds, Que., and his company Global Precision Inc., Bianqiao Li, of Waterloo, Ont., Nick Tasker of the United Kingdom and his Montreal-based company, 3D Microelectronics Inc., and Hugh Ciao, of California, with numerous offences related to the alleged incident.