It has been a busy start to the new year for 11 Division plainclothes officers.
Acting on complaints and concerns received from community partners, officers executed a number of search warrants targeting contraband tobacco products, pirated DVDs, illegal gambling machines and alcohol.
While engaged in proactive patrols, plainclothes officers witnessed the open sale of illegal tobacco in a Parkdale convenience store and subsequently seized over 44,000 illegal tobacco cigarettes on the premise.
Further investigation revealed another area store producing and distributing pirated DVDs. Officers seized 562 DVDs, along with two large computer towers containing 24 DVD burners. The owner was charged under the Federal Copyright Act.
“These quality-of-life crimes are not victimless acts. Contraband tobacco, as well as pirated DVDs, have direct ties to organized crime gangs who use proceeds from these activities to fund other illegal activities including, gun, drug and human smuggling. Criminal opportunists are taking advantage of persons in our most vulnerable neighbourhoods” said Inspector Suzanne Walsh, second in command of 11 Division.
Working with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, plainclothes officers attended yet another neighbourhood store where illegal DVDs and tobacco products were being sold. Officers discovered a large quantity of watches, electronics and personal items which were either being sold via an illegal pawn shop or held as collateral by the shop keeper to further illegal activities.
Building on the success of previous illegal-gambling interdiction projects, plainclothes officers continued to investigate licensed establishments for illegal gaming devices. Most recently, officers executed a search warrant on January 24 and seized nine gaming machines and a quantity of cash. Numerous charges were laid under the Liquor License Act.
With close to 300 licensed premises in 11 Division, officers not only rely on citizen complaints, but also on intelligence information received from Divisional sub-unit members. Inspector Walsh credits the excellent relationship that Community Response, Primary Response and Major Crime officers have fostered with residents, business owners and various social service agencies to eradicate these quality-of-life crimes affecting the fabric of their neighbourhoods.