Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Toronto and York Regional Police Targets Gun Smuggling Network

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A Toronto and York Regional Police Services led joint forces firearm investigation resulted in the seizure of 173 guns along with drugs and other proceeds of crime

173 guns, drugs, and other criminal proceeds were seized during a joint forces firearm investigation led by the Toronto and York Regional Police Services.

Moneypenny, a year-long cross-border firearms trafficking investigation that began in March 2022, has resulted in 42 arrests and 422 criminal charges.

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Project Zorro was launched in July 2022 by the Guns, Gangs, and Drug Enforcement Unit of the York Regional Police Service. Undercover investigators were successful in obtaining quantities of fentanyl, cocaine, and 25 firearms from identified individuals during the initial phases of both investigations.

The United States supplied the majority of the guns seized in both investigations.

The two investigations were combined in September 2022 with the assistance of Criminal Intelligence Services Ontario and Firearms Analysis and Training Enforcement to increase the likelihood of a successful investigation.

Dismantling the smuggling network and locating and prosecuting those accountable for the illegal activities were the primary goals of the joint investigation.

A total of 49 search warrants were executed in Toronto, Peel, and Durham between November 2022 and March 2023.

87 handguns were found in a vehicle driven by an Arizona resident in Chicago as part of the investigation. The guns were bound for Canada.

On April 11, during a press conference held at police headquarters, Deputy Chief Rob Johnson stated that bubble wrap was used to protect the guns from damage.

He stated, “Then, they were wrapped in holiday paper in an effort to avoid detection by border security.” After that, the firearms were packed in suitcases and loaded into the back of the resident’s car.

Additionally, three sets of body armor, cocaine, and other items indicative of firearm possession and trafficking were seized by police.

“Crafted by coordinated lawbreakers spreads across borders and our police work must too,” said Johnson. ” Driven by committed officials from policing in both Canada and the US, we have upset criminal associations and their unlawful exercises to ultimately benefit individuals in our city and in urban areas across Ontario and Canada.”

During the news conference, more than 80 firearms were on display, including rifles with large magazines and handguns with large magazines and switches that allow them to fire automatically.

Through Undertaking Moneypenny, Johnson said police are considering coordinated lawbreakers responsible for putting the prosperity and wellbeing of networks, loved ones in danger.

He emphasized, “Make no mistake, we are preventing activities that diminish the quality of life for our citizens when we take violent criminals off the streets, not to mention guns, drugs, and other proceeds of crime.”

The Durham Regional Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the Canada Border Services Agency, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives were also involved in the investigation.

Johnson expressed gratitude to the organizations for their dedication and ongoing commitment to maintaining the city’s safety, including the Toronto Drug Squad, the Toronto Police Service’s Integrated Gun & Gang Task Force, and Intelligence Services.

Superintendent Steve Watts of Organized Crime Enforcement added, “A seizure of this size is going to save lives and is the result of the dedicated work of many at the Toronto Police Service and our partners in the room today.”

York Provincial Police Administration Vice president Alvaro Almeida said protecting residents is the objective of each and every policing.

He added, “Rest assured, we will not be discouraged from pursuing this goal.” I would like to express my sincere gratitude to each and every officer from each and every service that was a part of this investigation for their tenacity in carrying out this investigation and bringing it to a successful conclusion.

In view of the enormous firearm seizure, OPP Boss Director Paul Mackey said networks are more secure today.

“The progress of this examination lies in the planned methodology of the accomplices, including the individuals from the OPP Common Weapons Authorization Unit,” he said. ” We have collectively conveyed our firm commitment to identifying and pursuing those who pose a threat to the public.

Chris Taylor, the ATF Attache to Canada, and Bryan Berryman, the Assistant Country Attaché ATF Canada, said in a joint statement that the success of Operation Moneypenny shows how well they worked together to stop illegal firearms from entering Canada.

They added, “We are honored to work with our Canadian law enforcement partners to reduce violent gun crime.” “We are proud of the work that ATF did in this investigation.”

On April 14, the accused will be remanded to the Ontario Court of Justice in Toronto after appearing in court.

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