A cache of 60 handguns in the trunk of a car, destined for the streets of Toronto, was intercepted as part of Project Patton, which culminated in 53 arrest and search warrants and 75 arrests so far.
Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force Acting Inspector Don Belanger said the 60 handguns bought in Florida were allegedly smuggled across the border and intercepted by Toronto Police in Cornwall – the largest single seizure of crime guns in TPS history.
“This gun-smuggling operation has been dismantled. There is no doubt in the minds of investigators that these guns were for the streets of Toronto and the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) to be used and sold by members of the Five Point Generals,” Belanger said.
Bought in Florida for approximately $500, they would likely sell in Toronto for $4,000 because they are “clean” – free of a criminal past.
The Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives partnered in this investigation.
Project Patton, at this point, has resulted in more than 1,000 charges, including participating in a criminal organization, firearms possession, drug possession and trafficking
“The information we had in relation to murder and attempted murder formed the genesis of this investigation,” Belanger said, of why the Five Point Generalz gang hierarchy was targeted. “We had legitimate intelligence that told us this group was allegedly involved in those types of activities.”
Also seized were 270 rounds of ammunition, 75 firearms magazines, 55 overcapacity magazines, four conducted energy weapons or Tasers, and a bulletproof vest.
Drugs including cocaine, fentanyl, carfentanil, heroin and marijuana, with a street value of $1.2 million, were allegedly seized as well as $184,000 in proceeds of crime. Toronto Police Asset Forfeiture and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada are also involved in the investigation.
As part of the search warrants, officers uncovered an alleged firearm assembly and manufacturing operation, seizing a drill press and enough parts to assemble another four handguns.
Many of the guns seized at Cornwall were multi-coloured, leading to an officer safety bulletin to police officers to be mindful that, because a gun is another colour, it doesn’t mean it’s fake.
Belanger acknowledged the work of hundreds of officers involved in executing the search warrants in the early morning hours of June 21, and the Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force (IGGTF) Major Projects Section for leading the investigation. He also pointed to IGGTF sub units Firearms Enforcement Unit, Gang Analysis Unit, Street Level Gun Teams and Firearms Investigative Analysis Unit, who contributed long hours and the IGGTF Crown Attorneys’ Office, who continue to work closely with investigators.
Intelligence Services and the Emergency Task Force were also noted for their work.
“Because the reach of the Five Point Generalz extended beyond our borders in the early days of this investigation, we requested support in terms of resources and personnel from the OPP, York and Peel Regional Police Services. Each of these agencies worked shoulder-to-shoulder with our investigators and deserve significant credit for the success of this project,” said Belanger, of the services who were all represented at the news conference.
Belanger thanked police in Cornwall, Halton, Waterloo, London, Guelph, Barrie, the RCMP, Durham and Windsor for their assistance with the operation.
Deputy Chief James Ramer said the goal of the project was to create a safer community.
“We are alleging, through evidence gathered during the operation, that the Five Point Generals acted as a coordinated criminal organization,” said Ramer. “We are confident that Project Patton has disrupted the hierarchy of the Five Point Generals.”
Ramer said gangs create a burden on social services, healthcare and local businesses as well as the public.
“To the people in the neighbourhoods affected by our activities yesterday morning, we appreciate that large-scale operations of this kind can be unsettling. Understand our intentions are directed entirely at making your community safer.”
The Toronto Police Service Integrated Gang Prevention Task Force uses Victim Services Toronto and other social service agencies to help those arrested and well as those affected by these arrests with resources to end the cycle.
“Through these agencies, we’re willing to help anyone affected by this operation. This includes family members of those arrested and anyone with concerns for young persons who are vulnerable to be lured into the gang lifestyle or willing to exit the gang lifestyle,” Ramer said.
Victim Services Toronto, a non-profit agency that is separate from the police, can be reached at 416-808-7066.
The Integrated Gang Prevention Task Force can be reached at 416-427-0995 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ramer said every person arrested in search warrants was given resources to reach out to for support in exiting the gang lifestyle and that the Service will continue to work with partners to help communities bring a holistic approach to getting young people away from a life of crime.