Police bust 'sophisticated and organized' crime ring, seize stolen vehicles worth millions in GTA
An investigation that spanned multiple jurisdictions in the Greater Toronto Area led to the seizure of more than 20 “high-end vehicles” stolen by a “sophisticated and organized” group.
“What started out as a small local investigation led us to a highly orchestrated organized crime ring that focused on vehicle thefts and saw nearly $100-million worth of illegal funds in processing those stolen vehicles,” Peel Regional Police Chief Chris McCord said at a news conference held on Wednesday morning.
“Investigators have seized approximately $2.2 million worth of stolen vehicles, along with key programmers, wireless electronic devices, licence plates, and fraudulent documentation.”
Officials are seen providing an update into Project Baijin at Peel Regional Police headquarters on July 24, 2019. (CTV News Toronto / Sean Leathong)
The investigation, dubbed Project Baijin, began in April when six “high-end vehicles” were seized, according to officers.
Six vehicles seized in April
- 2015 Jeep Wrangler
- 2016 Mercedes GLE350
- 2018 Mercedes C300
- 2018 Audi A7
- 2018 Dodge Ram
- 2019 Range Rover
In April, two international students, 24-year-old He Cui and 26-year-old Wenqi Li, were arrested and charged in connection with the investigation.
“As a result of the information that was gleamed during that arrest and conversations with our counterparts in York and Halton regions, a joint-forces investigation was started,” Det. Sgt. Don Jorgensen said.
Eight search warrants were then conducted by officers on Tuesday.
22 vehicles seized in July (values estimated by police)
- 2018 Bentley GTC $263,000
- 2018 Mercedes Benz GT50 AMG Convertible (1 of 500 produced) $230, 000
- 2017 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG $200,000
- 2017 Range Rover Black RRV $185,000
- 2019 Range Rover $167,286
- 2019 Audi Q7 $137,000
- 2019 Volvo XC90 $100,000
- 2019 GMC Yukon $93,000
- 2018 Dodge Ram $88,110
- 2018 Mercedes C43 $85,000
- 2017 Bmw X6 $83,000
- 2016 Mercedes GLE350 $80,659
- 2018 Audi A7 $74,846
- 2017 Audi Q6 Suv $71,000
- 2017 Range Rover Discovery $63,000
- 2018 Toyota 4Runner $50,000
- 2018 Jeep Wrangler $50,000
- 2019 Ford Mustang Convertible $50,000
- 2002 John Deere Backhoe $45,000
- 2015 Jeep $40,367
- 2016 Jeep Wrangler $30,000
- 2010 Bobcat S650 $10,000
Vehicles seized in Project Baijin are seen outside of Peel Regional Police headquarters on July 24, 2019. (CTV News Toronto / Marc Cormier)
Three additional men, 44-year-old Krisztien Nemes, 42-year-old Ryan Gillard and 24-year-old Radivoje Tadic, are now facing charges related to identity fraud, identity theft, theft and possession of stolen property, and trafficking stolen property in connection with the investigation.
Police said the vehicles were being stored in Mississauga, but were obtained in other regions.
“Many of these vehicles were stolen in other jurisdictions, such as Halton and York regions,” McCord said. “The investigation revealed that the vehicles were being prepped to be shipped overseas in containers to China and European countries.”
“The majority of these vehicles recovered to date were purchased fraudulently using fake identification and fictitious employment records, along with address records. Other vehicles were fraudulently purchased and later reported stolen, defrauding insurance companies of the replacement costs in this complicated criminal activity.”
Items and cash seized during Project Baijin are seen. (CTV News Toronto / Sean Leathong)
Investigators said some vehicles were also being obtained in others parts of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.
“The investigation is ongoing and further arrests are anticipated,” police said.
Anyone with further information is asked to contact officers at 905-453-2121, ext. 3322 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).