Million Dollar Robbery Case Leads to Eight Guns

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 12:17 p.m. September 28, 2021

Toronto Police has made seven arrests, seized eight firearms and recovered a large quantity of cash and cocaine following a five-month million-dollar robbery investigation dubbed Project Heavy Bag.

A table with firearms
Handguns and high-capacity magazines seized as part of Project Heavy Bag

On April 1, 2021, two men forced an employee at gunpoint to give them access to a retail location in the area of Carlingview Dr. and Dixon Rd. The location is a deposit that funds and refills privately owned ATM machines with cash.

After assaulting a second victim and forcing them to open the safes, the suspects loaded garbage bags with cash exceeding $1 million before fleeing in a waiting vehicle.

During an attempted home invasion on May 17 in the Kipling Ave. and Steeles Ave. W. area, officers – while checking on the wellbeing of the occupants – recovered nearly $160,000 that was stolen from the robbery on April 1.

At a media conference at police headquarters on September 28, Hold Up A/Insp. Richard Harris said forensic evidence, including DNA, assisted in identifying one of the robbery suspects.

“Members of the Hold Up Squad, with the assistance of our colleagues at Intelligence Services, Mobile Support Services, the Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force and Forensic Identification Services were able to identify and further the investigation into those responsible for the robbery,” he said.

On September 9, Devante Virgo, 23, of Toronto, was arrested in the area of Roncesvalles Ave. and the Queensway. He was in a vehicle along with a female acquaintance – Courtni Martin, 22, of Mississauga.

A man at a podium
Acting Inspector Richard Harris speaks to the media about Project Heavy Bag

A fully loaded 9mm Glock handgun and an extended magazine with 22 rounds of ammunition were located and seized upon his arrest.

Virgo is facing 13 charges, including three counts of failing to comply with probation while Martin faces seven charges.

They appeared at a bail hearing on September 10 and will make their next court appearance on October 7.

On September 9 and 10, members of the Hold Up with assistance from the Emergency Task Force, 11, 22 and 23 Divisions Major Crime Units and Forensic Identification Services executed four search warrants at various addresses and on two vehicles in Toronto and Woodbridge.

Clothing, seven additional handguns, high-capacity firearm magazines, numerous rounds of ammunition, body armor and a large quantity of cash and cocaine were seized.

“This is just a great example of the partnership that goes on between divisional and uniformed policing at its core,” said Supt. Mike Barsky of Detective Operations. “The resolve of this investigation is a great example of the importance of these areas working together in order to enhance community safety.”

Andrew Parsons, 22, of Toronto was arrested and charged with robbery with a firearm and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. 

His next court appearance is November 18.

Also arrested were Phillip and Stephanie Nkrumah of Caledon and Gabrielle and Michelle Belsito of Toronto. They face a total of 11 charges.

A Canada-wide arrest warrant has been issued for Emmanuel Rawson, 22, of Toronto.

He’s described as 5’7” and 190 lbs.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at (416) 808-7350, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416−222−TIPS (8477), online at 222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook.

Harris is urging Rawson to contact a lawyer and turn himself into police.

“It’s quite clear that these individuals have a high propensity for violence and threaten the safety of our communities,” said Harris. “The scope of the investigation can be summed up by the countless hours of follow-up investigative work, judicial authorizations, interviews and surveillance which quite frankly come as second nature to those involved in this investigation. The Hold-Up Squad, with those partnerships I have mentioned, remain steadfast in their resolve to investigate, arrest and place before the Courts those individuals who would prey on members of our communities and place them in harm’s way.”

The firearms seized were displayed at the press conference.

“It is pretty obvious from this display what could happen on the street with them,” said Supt. Ron Taverner, of 23 Division. “To have an investigation that was able to get this number of firearms off the street possibly saved countless lives. This particular incident was a violent event that individuals committed and it took an extreme amount of hard work, good police work and many, many hours to bring this case to a successful conclusion and make arrests.”

TPS crest watermark