Kraken Targets Gang Crime

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 12:02 p.m. June 28, 2019

A significant quantity of guns and drugs were seized during an extensive Toronto-Police led multi-jurisdictional operation that led to charges against 73 individuals.

A group of people seated near a table of guns
Deputy Chief James Ramer, OPP Acting Chief Superintendent Karl Thomas, RCMP Chief Superintendent Michael Lesage, York Deputy Chief Brian Bigras

Project Kraken targeted a street gang – Chester Le Gang – that it is alleged was operating as a highly coordinated criminal organization and was involved in illegal activities that posed a direct threat to community safety.

In the early morning hours of June 27, hundreds of police officers from 12 Ontario Police Services executed 41 search warrants and three arrest warrants in Toronto, Hamilton, South Simcoe, Peel, York and Durham.

Charges relate to offences including participating in activities of a criminal organization, possession of controlled substances, armed robbery, drug trafficking and possession of a loaded firearm.

Among the group arrested is a young offender who faces several charges, including breach of a peace bond, participating in activities of a criminal organization and possession of fentanyl for the purpose of trafficking.

In addition to 23 firearms seized with an estimated street value of $84,000, police also took possession of 1,058 grams of cocaine with an estimated street value of $116,000, 11,033 grams of fentanyl with a street value of $250,000 and $92,000 in Canadian currency.

Prior to yesterday, 18 people were arrested in connection with the eight-month investigation led by the Major Projects Section of the Integrated Gun & Gang Task Force.

At a news conference at police headquarters on June 28, Deputy Chief James Ramer said that intelligence led investigators to believe that members of the Chester Le Gang and their associates were involved in numerous violent incidents and activities in the last four years. This included attempted murder, firearms occurrences, drug trafficking and numerous robberies.

“In two of the robberies, two two trucks smashed their way through jewelry stores and firearms were discharged,” noted Ramer. “It is further alleged based on evidence gathered that the Chester Le Gang operated as a coordinated criminal organization. Many of the charges laid reflect this allegation.”

The gang, Ramer added, is connected to several murders.

Project Kraken also identified Chester Le Gang members who are involved in an extensive drug trafficking network.

“The predominant drug trafficked is fentanyl,” said Ramer. “It is alleged that members were trafficking fentanyl to communities in Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Peterborough... Working in collaboration with our partner agencies, Project Kraken has significantly disrupted the criminal operations and the hierarchy of the Chester Le Gang.”

A table with handguns on it
Handguns seized during Project Kraken

Acting Chief Superintendent Karl Thomas, who is the Commander of the Ontario Provincial Police Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau, Chief Superintendent Michael Lesage, who is the Officer in Charge of Criminal Operations for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Deputy Chief Brian Bigras of York Regional Police joined Ramer at the news conference in Toronto Police’s auditorium.

Ramer thanked the partner agencies for their collaboration.

“Each of the Services contributed significantly with respect to personnel and resources,” he pointed out. “A co-ordinated effort was vital as it was recognized early in this investigation that the reach of the Chester Le Gang extended beyond our borders. I thank them for their commitment to this operation and its success.”

Ramer said the investigation also related to criminal charges against tow truck drivers as well as an investigation linked to traditional organized crime led by the OPP.

The Deputy Chief is confident that Project Kraken will result in the incarceration of numerous violent gang members and that it had a direct and positive impact on communities throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

In order to educate young people about the perils of gang affiliation, Ramer announced that the Integrated Gun & Gang Task Force will host 31 community town hall meetings in various neighbourhoods throughout the city beginning in September.

“It will be an opportunity to interact and educate members of the community on gangs, the different resources and programs available to youths, parents and community members,” he said. “We encourage people to attend.”

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