Ontario-wide street gang bust leads to 114 arrests, 800 criminal charges
TORONTO -- Toronto police, along with several other police services in Ontario, say they have successfully dismantled a criminal street gang, arresting more than 114 people who are now facing roughly 800 charges.
A provincewide gun, gang, drugs and human trafficking investigation, dubbed Project Sunder, started in September 2019 when Toronto police began probing a local criminal street gang known as the Eglinton West Crips.
“Early on, our intelligence led us to believe that members of the Eglinton West Crips and their associates were allegedly involved in numerous violent incidents that have plagued our communities over the last three years,” Deputy Chief Myron Demkiw said during a news conference on Thursday.
Demkiw said the violent incidents include murders, attempted murders, shootings, and drug and human trafficking.
“We also allege that the Eglinton West Crips were involved in extensive gun and drug trafficking networks that spanned the province of Ontario. These networks are alleged to have trafficked large quantities of narcotics specifically cocaine and fentanyl to many communities outside the Greater Toronto Area, as far away as Thunder Bay,” he added.
Toronto police collaborated with several jurisdictions for Project Sunder, including the Ontario Provincial Police (Orillia, Gravenhurst, North Bay, Napanee), York, Peel, Halton and Durham Regions, Barrie, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Kingston, Ottawa, and Thunder Bay.
The year-long probe involved 141 search warrants. As a result, several items were seized, including 31 firearms with four over-capacity magazines. Seven kilograms of cocaine, two kilograms of fentanyl, two kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, and more than $300,000 in cash were also seized.
Toronto police released images of the seized firearms on Thursday.
Other drugs seized include heroin, oxycodone, percocets, and MDMA.
The total street value of drugs seized is over $1.5 million, while the firearms total street value is $115,000, according to police.
Arrests have been made in 15 different cities and once the project is over it’s anticipated that more than 114 people will face roughly 800 charges, police said.
Police also allege that the leaders of the Eglinton West Crips were among those arrested.
“The success of this provincewide investigation is a testament to how effectively police work together,” OPP Chief Superintendent Paul Mackey said at the press conference. “This particular investigation clearly demonstrates how GTA-based street gangs have influence across Ontario, from Ottawa to Thunder Bay and many places in between.”
Demkiw also credits the collaboration between the police forces for the success of Project Sunder.
“...There are no borders for the criminal element that we investigate and our continued cooperation with our partners to co-produce safety is an essential element of the City of Toronto itself,” Demkiw said. “The reality is that the integration of our efforts across borders serves all of our communities very very effectively and is very very necessary.”