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Police seize $2.5M in drugs, lay hundreds of charges in investigation targeting GTA gang

Cash, drugs and other items seized as part of 'Project Lookout' are displayed at a news conference Wednesday June 19, 2024. Cash, drugs and other items seized as part of 'Project Lookout' are displayed at a news conference Wednesday June 19, 2024.
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York Regional Police say they have seized approximately $2.5 million worth of drugs, as well as cash, vehicles and 18 firearms as part of a 14-month investigation targeting a "large-scale" gun and drug trafficking network.

Police say 20 people have also been charged in the investigation, dubbed "Project Lookout," which targeted a street gang known as the Haywan Gang.

"The arrest and seizures made during Project Lookout will save lives and make a significant impact in our community," Insp. Richard Gaudet said at a news conference Wednesday to announce the results of the investigation.

A joint forces operation (JFO) to investigate the gang was formed in April 2023.

Cash, drugs and other items seized as part of 'Project Lookout' are displayed at a news conference Wednesday June 19, 2024. (Patrick Darrah)

Investigators from York, Toronto, Peel, OPP, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) were part of the operation.

"This street gang originated in the City of Toronto, but was now believed to be involved in the trafficking of firearms and drugs in the southern part of York Region," Gaudet said. "The team identified a sophisticated criminal network that trafficked large quantities of firearms and high quality cocaine across the GTA."

As the operation evolved, investigators identified suspects who were allegedly supplying members and associates of the Haywan Gang with firearms and high-quality cocaine, police said. They said the drugs were primarily trafficked in the City of Vaughan.

Coordinated search warrants involving more than 200 police officers were carried out at 33 locations across the Greater Toronto Area on June 5.

A total of 295 charges were laid against those arrested in the operation, including a range of weapons and drug offences.

The seized drugs included 19.8 kilograms of cocaine, 4.8 kilograms of cannabis and a quantity of MDMA, Xanax pills and oxycodone pills.

"The cocaine seized during this investigation has been analyzed as well. It was found to be between 89 to 97 per cent pure, which suggests that the arrested suppliers are linked to the highest levels of organized crime cocaine importers," Gaudet said. "We believe that these drugs were destined for the street level dealers who will peddle these dangerous substances in our community after diluting them with fillers to maximize profits."

Cash, drugs and other items seized as part of 'Project Lookout' are displayed at a news conference Wednesday June 19, 2024. (Patrick Darrah)

Investigators also seized $244,335 in Canadian currency, four vehicles and luxury watches valued at $255,000 as proceeds of crime.

The seized guns were primarily smuggled into Canada from the United States, police said.

Deputy Chief Alvaro Almeida said the results are "likely to significantly disrupt the operations of this criminal group."

Police say the investigation is ongoing and they’re asking anyone with further information to contact York regional police or call crime stoppers anonymously.

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