Three Toronto Police drug investigations over the past two months have resulted in the seizure of nearly $3.7 million in illicit drugs, almost $400,000 in cash and 13 firearms.
Utilizing different types of intelligence-led techniques, Project Sparta was launched early last year to investigate a distribution network of illicit drugs.
On January 9, 2019, investigators arrested and charged Adrian Narayan and Nicholas Droege, both 20, and 34-year-old Hung Nguyen.
A total of six search warrants were executed on three homes and three motor vehicles in the areas of Bathurst St. & Follis Ave., Adelaide St. W. & Simcoe St. and Bay and Grosvenor Sts.
The alleged seizure at the time included 68 kilograms of powder cocaine, five kilos of MDMA, seven kilograms of ketamine, one kilogram of crystal methamphetamine and $343,759 in Canadian currency.
The second part of the investigation – Sparta II – led to the arrest of four more individuals and the execution of multiple search warrants on addresses and vehicles.
The addresses are located in downtown Toronto and North York.
The search warrants resulted in the seizure of a 12-gauge shotgun, over seven-and-a-half kilos of powder cocaine, close to one kilo of fentanyl, more than eight kilos of illegal marijuana and smaller quantities of crack, MDMA, ketamine and Xanax.
At a news conference at police headquarters on November 6, Insp. Don Belanger said the quantity of drugs had the potential to yield as much as $1.4 million when sold at the street level.
“We also seized just over $190,000 in cash that we allege to be proceeds of criminal activity,” he said.
Launched in September, Project Topside zeroed in on a male who was believed to be trafficking cocaine at the multi-kilo level.
“Information indicated that the male was operating his illegal drug operation in the east end of Toronto with ties throughout the Greater Toronto Area,” said Belanger. “As the investigation progressed, investigators came to believe that those involved not only had access to large quantities of cocaine, but also illicit firearms.”
On October 24 and 25, search warrants were executed at three addresses in Markham and on three vehicles in Scarborough and Markham.
A total of 3.9 kilos of powder cocaine, 1.3 kilos of crack cocaine, 3.7 kilos of heroin and 1.3 kilos of fentanyl were seized.
The quantity of the controlled substances had the potential to yield as much as $1.7 million when sold at the street level. Additionally, more than $200,000 in cash was seized.
“Incredibly, the vast majority of this cash was seized from one of the accused individuals when he was arrested while walking to his vehicle,” said Belanger. “We allege that all of this money is proceeds from gun and drug sales.”
Police also seized four semi-automatic pistols, five revolvers, three rifles, a replica Glock pistol, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a bullet proof vest, two firearm silencers and additional firearm magazines, including a loaded drum magazine that would allow someone to fire 50 rounds before having to reload.
“It’s worth noting that nine of the 12 guns were loaded and ready to be fired when located by our officers,” Belanger said. “Also of interest is the fact that 11 of the guns and all of the seized drugs were found in a hidden trap built into one of the vehicles. The sophisticated trap was wired into the vehicle and it operated using hydraulics. A second trap was also located in a Honda vehicle linked to this investigation, but was empty when opened.”
Hidden compartments in vehicles, also known as traps, are used to conceal drugs.
Imran and Kadean Maragh of Stouffville face numerous drug and proceeds-related charges. Denied bail, their next court appearance is on November 13.
An arrest warrant has been issued for 27-year-old Nicholas Reid of Markham.
“I encourage Mr. Reid to contact his lawyer and turn himself in today at any police station,” said Belanger.
The Maragh brothers and Reid face a combined 57 charges
Anyone with information on Reid’s whereabouts is asked to contact investigators at 416-808-6100: Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at 222tips.com, online on our Facebook Leave a Tip page, or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637). Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App World.
In a street team investigation, three search warrants were executed on November 2 on a condo unit, a storage locker and a vehicle in the Lakeshore Blvd. W and Parklawn Rd. area.
Investigators located and seized just over six kilos of powder cocaine with a potential street value of $600,000
Ramin Karimi, 36, of Toronto was arrested and charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine. He was released on bail and will appear in court again on December 20.
Chief Mark Saunders praised investigators for their tireless work in trying to rid the streets of illegal guns and drugs.
“The link between drugs, guns and gangs are obvious. The outcomes of these investigations are another example of the outstanding work our specialized squads do every day combatting gun and gang activity. The quantity of drugs and guns seized in these operations alone represent millions of dollars in lost profit for organized crime," Saunders said.
He said the investigations were highly successful.
“When I speak about being successful, it speaks specifically to the street gang entities and what we need to do to remove the incentives,” he said. “When we look at all of this, there’s money to be made. When we cut into the profit margin, then we know we are reducing what they are trying to get.”
To date, nearly 700 people have been arrested this year for firearm-related offences.