Police dismantle organized crime group accused of breaking into 400 GTA homes
Published Wednesday, April 4, 2018 1:50PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, April 4, 2018 7:33PM EDT
Police in Halton Region have dismantled what they call a “network of foreign nationals” who are accused of targeting and burglarizing dozens of GTA homes over the past several months.
The group allegedly broke into close to 400 residences across the GTA, with approximately 70 victims in Halton Region alone.
Halton Regional Police say investigators within its analytics department identified a “trend” in break-in tactics shortly before the end of 2017.
In each case, the suspects would knock on the front door to a home and wait several minutes “to confirm the home was vacant” before smashing or prying open a rear door.
“The culprits would enter the home, they would rummage through bedrooms,” Det. Sgt. Paul Foley told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday. “They were targeting jewelry, watches, designer clothing and cash.”
Foley said investigators hit a “lucky break” on March 2 when an Oakville resident walking his dog spotted two suspects breaking into a home in the area and promptly notified police.
Eventually, York Regional Police Service and the Toronto Police Service joined the investigation.
“Over the span of five days, we arrested 14 individuals, executed four search warrants in the city of Toronto and in the city of Mississauga, resulting in the recovery of approximately $2.7 million worth of stolen property.”
Of the 14 suspects, 10 were arrested by Halton Regional Police and four by York Regional Police during a series of search warrants in Mississauga and Toronto. They’re all alleged to be a part of an organized crime group originating from Chile.
The suspects have been identified by police as Alvaro Castillo-Toutin, 29, Jorge Del Valle-Correa, 43, Maria Urrea Figueroa, 25, Mauricio Antonio Marchant Veas, 57, Vanlla Balbontin Villegas, 32, Italo Villegas Varas, 19, Andres Felipe Longton Vio, 24, Raul Barros Saez, 42, Felipe Hermosilla Lizama, 30, and Juan Montecinos Neira, 28.
They’re facing a combined 69 criminal charges in relation to the incidents. None of the charges have been proven in court.
Halton Regional Police Chief Stephen Tanner said video surveillance was vital for investigators. In some of the images released by police on Wednesday, people were captured on surveillance systems staring directly at the camera.
“In a great many of these cases, video surveillance either put in place by homeowners or by municipalities or business owners, have helped to solve these crimes,” Tanner said. “It did not stop the crime but it helped us to identify the people (allegedly) responsible.”
Police are now hoping to reunite residents with their stolen property, which includes foreign currency, jewelry, designer handbags and watches.
“We’d like to get as much of the property back to the victims. You can imagine how incredibly difficult that can be when we’re dealing with 400 different families across an area such as the GTA,” Tanner said.
Police say the investigation is ongoing and that investigators anticipate more charges may be laid as they uncover more evidence.
Anyone who has any information about the investigation or believes they have been victimized by this group is being asked to call Halton Regional Police.