Millions of dollars of drugs, property and cash, along with weapons, have been seized in a major police operation targeting an alleged criminal organization smuggling drugs in and out of Canada.
Project Beyond, which started seven months ago, has resulted in the arrest of 27 people who face criminal organization and drug trafficking-based charges.
Members of the Toronto Police Drug Squad Major Projects Section, York Regional Police and the Canada Border Services Agency conducted the joint forces operation into the organization involved in the distribution, trafficking and export of narcotics in Toronto, York Region and beyond.
At a news conference at police headquarters on July 14, Superintendent Gord Sneddon, of the Organized Enforcement Section, said the alleged criminal organization’s reach extended beyond Ontario.
“Their range of influence has spread to the United States,” he said. “We worked with the Drug Enforcement Administration, particularly in New York State, and we have had some success.”
Various controlled substances, including cocaine, marijuana, crystal meth, opium, ketamine and fentanyl, totalling 283.2 kilos, with a street value of over $14 million, were seized. A total of 103 kilos of cutting agents for cocaine with a street value of $164,220 were also seized.
In addition, eight firearms, including a Tec 9 machine pistol with a silencer, an SKS rifle, a Springfield .40 cal handgun, a 30/30 rifle and two 12 gauge shotguns, along with 418 rounds of ammunition and a silencer, were seized.
“It’s always good to see one gun off the street,” said Sneddon. “That is always a positive thing because it only takes one bullet from one gun to kill one individual and we have seen enough of that violence in our communities. Some of these firearms are only built for one purpose and that’s to kill.”
Assets such as bank accounts, money counters and condominiums, worth almost $3.4 million, believed to be gained from a criminal lifestyle and $2.4 million in cash proceeds were also seized in the joint exercise.
Sneddon said the organization, which doesn’t have a name, was sophisticated and it compromised members of various ethnic groups.
“The one common denominator is the desire to make money from the misery of other people,” he said.
Law enforcement will allege that Kevin Er, 40, of Richmond Hill, was the organization’s leader.
“It’s very clear from our investigation that there was a hierarchy in this organization,” said Snedden.
Inspector Dieter Boeheim, of York Regional Police, said Er is known to that police service.
“He’s known for criminal endeavours, generally drugs,” said Boeheim.
Er faces 15 charges.