A total of 485 charges have been laid against 90 people arrested after Toronto Police and other law enforcement agencies conducted early morning raids in southern Ontario on June 15.
Police expect to arrest 35 more suspects. When arrested, an additional 133 charges will be laid taking the tally to 618.
At a news conference at police headquarters on June 16, Inspector Peter Moreira of the Integrated Gun & Gang Task Force said the investigation – Project Kronic – was launched in May 2016.
Toronto Police Integrated Gun & Gang Task Force took the lead in the investigation. They partnered with the Ontario Provincial Police Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit, York Regional Police Organized Crime Bureau and the Greater Sudbury Police Service.
Another 16 police services were involved in the complex criminal investigation focused on the Driftwood Crips, their associates and other criminal participants.
This group had been the focus of a large-scale investigation – Project Kryptic – 10 years ago. Some members were also arrested as part of Project Marvel conducted in 2011.
A total of 19 of those arrested on June 15 were convicted in one or both of these investigations.
“In the early days of Project Kronic, it became apparent that this group’s criminal interests had stretched well beyond our city limits,” said Moreira. “Recognizing the damaging and violent impact this criminal organization was having on communities both in the city of Toronto and beyond, Project Kronic was born.”
Police are alleging the Driftwood Crips was a structured criminal organization with multiple cells operating in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan, and that drug trafficking was their main activity.
“We also allege that weapons, including those in front of me and/or the threat of violence were used to further and protect that drug trade,” said Moreira. “Members of this group have been involved in numerous reckless acts, including shootings, kidnappings, firearms offences, armed sexual assaults, robberies, drug trafficking and other serious violent crimes.”
During the sweep, 18 firearms and 208 rounds of ammunition, nearly $178,000 in cash, 193 patches of fentanyl with a street value of $38,600 in Toronto and $86,850 in Sudbury, 194 fentanyl pills with a street value of $15,520 in Toronto and $23,280 in Sudbury, were seized.
“Fentanyl is a rising problem within this province and country and this is a significant seizure,” said Moreira.
The ages of the accused range from 63 to 10 young offenders.
There was only one minor injury during the early morning raids.
“We realize that this can be an unsettling sight for many people, the vast majority of whom are honest and productive citizens,” said Moreira. “Understand that our number one priority is your safety and the safety of your families. Removing violent gang members, many armed, from a community requires an armed presence on the part of the police. I can report that, despite making dozens of arrests, there was not a single exchange of gunfire. This is an accomplishment when you see the type of fire power that is out there as evidenced by the items on display today.”
Over 800 officers were involved in the coordinated operation.
Deputy Chief Jim Ramer said the collaboration of law enforcement on this large scale is only done to respond to very serious threats to public safety.
“As we continue to recognize the complex needs of our city, we will continue to find new and innovative ways to provide our neighbourhoods with this effective response,” he said.
For the first time ever, Toronto Police partnered with social service agencies after a major police investigation.
Ramer said several suspects have been referred to community agencies with the hope that they turn away from crime.
“The Toronto Police Service will continue to look for ways that incorporate these services and our policing response,” he said, of giving people support to exit the gang lifestyle. “We believe that community partnerships make for safer neighbourhoods.”