Over 60 firearms destined for street sale were seized during an investigation of alleged arms traffickers.
Investigators displayed 62 firearms – the majority high-quality Glock handguns worth up to $6,000 in street value – as part of the eight-month-long Project Barbell. Three AK-style and five AR-15-style rifles were also seized. Of the guns, 57 were traced back to the United States, one was stolen in an Ontario break and enter the others were untraceable.
Six people face 260 charges and one man, Syed Mohammed Ali Zaidi, 27, of Toronto, is alleged to have been the shooter in a crowded bar in October 2021.
“While we are here to show the public the results of a successful investigation, this is by no means a good news story. While it represents outstanding police work, we should all be disturbed by a gun seizure of this magnitude,” said Chief James Ramer, thanking the Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force for their work in this case. “Gun violence continues to be the most significant public safety concern for the people of Toronto. Why? Because our youth are dying over this issue. Shootings devastate families and erode the sense of security for entire communities. And every one of these guns was destined for our streets; our communities.”
Chief Ramer said the root causes of gun and gang violence are complex and the police remained committed to working with partner agencies and all levels of government to reach young people at risk.
“But let me be clear, we are equally committed to targeting those who are high-risk; those who choose to carry and to use illegal guns in our neighbourhoods.
In addition to our commitments to prevention and enforcement, we have also advocated – through our Board – for bail reform and other legislative changes to better tackle gun violence in our city,” Chief Ramer said.
Chief Ramer said the proposed changes include:
- ensuring that bail hearings for the most serious firearm offences are heard by a judge of the Ontario Court or Superior Court to hold the most high-risk offenders more accountable for their dangerous actions
- amending the Criminal Code so that someone who intentionally uses a gun in a public setting surrounded by innocent people – like in a park, or a nightclub – is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, including a charge of First Degree Murder if someone is killed in these circumstances
- A commitment to ongoing funding at our border crossings. Investments in the CBSA allows for increased collaboration at all levels of law enforcement when it comes to firearms smuggling and trafficking
Organized Crime Enforcement Superintendent Steve Watts thanked all the investigators, supervisors and support staff responsible for the arrests from the Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force and the Centralized Shooting Response Team.
“I can state without reservation that this investigation has absolutely increased the level of public safety,” said Watts, noting the guns were meant to be sold.
Watts also thanked the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for their help with the investigation.