Toronto Police, along with 16 other police agencies across Ontario, showed off the large number of drugs, guns and cash items they've seized on Friday — as a result of a sweeping raid and investigation into a notorious street gang, dubbed "Project Kronic".
On Thursday, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said in a news conference that officers had arrested 120 people and had made 660 charges.
Lead Inspector Peter Moreira of Toronto Police's Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force explained Friday that those numbers included both existing and expected charges and arrests.
As of Friday, police have arrested 90 members of the Driftwood Crips crime syndicate, with a total of 485 charges, including drug trafficking, robbery, firearms possession and attempted murder. The force expects to make another 35 arrests, along with over 130 additional charges in the next several days, Moreira said.
The investigation was more than a year in the making, involving more than 800 police officers, across a number of Ontario jurisdictions, and was carried out in the early morning hours on Thursday.
"I think the team has made a significant dent because of the number of arrests, we've made," said lead Inspector Peter Moreira of Toronto Police's Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force, flanked by racks of guns and cash seized in the raids.
Moreira said cells of the gang have spread to other provinces, including British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan but with the latest arrests, "there's no one to operate the cells we've been able to identify."
"Project Kronic" was designed as the third major crackdown on the Driftwood Crips — a Toronto-based gang modelled after its Los Angeles counterpart — intended to identify members and gang leaders and to cut off the supply of drugs and guns into communities.
Police had previously carried out raids on the same gang 2007 and 2001. Moreira said the gang has been chiefly involved in the drug trade but is also responsible for robberies, kidnappings and shootings in the city.
"[The Driftwood Crips] have shown an extreme propensity for violence...a blatant disregard for public safety," said Deputy Chief Jim Ramer of Toronto Police.
In addition to taking the gang's guns, ammunition and drugs, police have also seized $177,000 in cash it alleges is related to criminal activities.
'Significant' fentanyl seizures
Moreira noted that "Project Kronic' has had a "significant" impact on the growing problems of fentanyl being discovered in street drugs.
Nearly 400 fentanyl patches and pills, worth a street value of $53,000, were confiscated as part of the seizures.
"Fentanyl is a rising problem in this province and in this country. This is a significant seizure for us," Moreira said.
Officers on the drug task force conceded much of the gang took its orders from leaders already locked up in prison but Moreira said "it's a start" to completely shutting down the street gang.
"We feel we've made a significant impact for public safety," Moreira said in relation to the seizure of the dangerous opioids. Keeping communities safe, he said, is "something we have to continue to monitor."