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Durham police charge 92 people, seize more than $600K in drugs in 'Project Martini'

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Durham Regional Police say they have charged close to 100 people and recovered large quantities of drugs worth more than $600,000 as part of 'Project Martini,' a wide-ranging investigation targeting drug trafficking and human trafficking in the region.

"These arrests and seizures have put a significant dent into drug trafficking in Durham Region," Supt. Ryan Connoly told reporters at a news conference to discuss the results of the project Monday.

Connoly said the seizures included more than three kilograms of methamphetamines, more than one kilogram of cocaine, close to one kilogram of fentanyl and over $30,000 in cash.

Police also executed 11 search warrants and laid 113 criminal charges against 92 people, including offences that related to drug trafficking, property crimes, violent crimes, and the procurement of sexual services.

Connoly said the five-week investigation focused on downtown Oshawa and was prompted by complaints form businesses and residents.

"At the end of the day, these drugs that are being trafficked destroy lives and ruin families," Connoly said.

Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter also spoke at the news conference and said the results of the investigation send a strong message.

"I want to make sure that everybody understands that if you're going to deal drugs in our city and the Region of Durham, you are unwelcome," he said.

He added that drug deaths are a "national crisis" in Canada and called on all levels of government to do more to combat the problem.

"Across this country we're losing 24 people a day in regard to this drug epidemic," Carter said. "We have unhoused, unsheltered homeless individuals that are struggling – the most vulnerable in our community – and we need to do a better job than what we're doing today.

"But this demonstrates that we will do everything we possibly can to make sure that this is a community of law and order, that this community will not tolerate drug sales in our community."

He also praised the investigation for its focus on human trafficking and helping "the most vulnerable in our community that are being victimized."

Connoly said the range of individuals arrested – from young offenders to those well-known to police –  demonstrates that "the drug epidemic touches pretty much everybody."

He said Durham police will be following up closely on those released with conditions. 

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