Toronto Police – with help from other law enforcement agencies – executed 53 search warrants across the Greater Toronto Area early this morning, resulting in more than 50 arrests.
Police also seized nine guns, two cocaine presses and large amounts of cash and drugs, including heroin and cocaine.
The majority of those arrested are members of the Sick Thugz and Asian Assassins gangs based in Toronto.
Led by the Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force with support from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Provincial Weapons Enforcement Team, Project RX focused on the Sick Thugz, while Project Battery – spearheaded by the Asian Organized Crime Task Force, a multi-agency unit comprising officers from Toronto Police, OPP, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) York, Peel and the Canadian Border Services Agency – zeroed in on the Asian Assassins.
At a press conference at police headquarters on May 28, Acting Chief Mark Saunders said the joint investigations started about a year ago on the rival gangs who have been involved in several shootings across the city.
“These two rival gangs were incredibly ruthless,” said Saunders. “Though they operated primarily in 51 and 14 Divisions, these particular gangs had a much bigger footprint than normal gangs. Whenever you attend these large types of takedowns, it’s within a small geographic area. Today, as you can see, it was right across the city and that was something that was a little bit unique than most of the others.
“…This was a much more graduated level of gangster activity culture than we have dealt with in the past. This seems to be a trend that is ongoing now. Our level of law enforcement has increased substantially because of this level of sophistication that has taken place that we have noticed… In the past, where we were dealing with the street gangs that were commonly associated with this very low-level type of organization and structure to it where just violence was prevalent and nothing else, now we are starting to see that these gangs have that level of violence and a much stronger level of sophistication and organization. That’s something to be concerned about, but we are still ahead of the curve.”
Prior to today’s takedowns, 30 people were arrested and 20 guns seized as part of the investigations.
In addition to Toronto, warrants were also executed in Peel, York, and Durham regions.
Saunders praised the officers who executed the successful raids.
“I am very satisfied with the work of our men and women,” he added. “They have put a significant dent in the violence that has occurred within this city and I think we will see the results of that decrease as a result of these arrests… These gangs were rivals so the intended targets were each other. We used the highest level of force to take down a number of people. This was a streamlined investigation and we targeted specific people. It was done quite seamlessly and I must also commend the collaboration we had with other law enforcement agencies. Sharing information and working together with other agencies is something we are getting better at.”
"The people arrested are being processed before the courts today. They face a number of charges, including trafficking firearms, drugs and firearms possession, human trafficking, armed robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.
Some of the seized items will be displayed at a press conference at police headquarters tomorrow (May 29) at 11 a.m., where Superintendent Doug Quan and Inspector Gord Sneddon will release more details on the two projects.