Toronto police say it was an investigation into a street robbery and shooting in the city's northwest in May that led to the dozens of raids and scores of arrests carried out across the country early Tuesday morning.
More than 900 officers executed 67 search warrants simultaneously across Ontario and in Alberta and British Columbia.
At least 60 people were taken into custody — about 10 of them young offenders — and are facing more than 300 charges, police said.
"Today, I think we had a successful day," said Supt. Chris White, of the Organized Crime Unit.
Investigators say Project Marvel involved criminal organization offences, attempted murder, firearms trafficking and importation, drug trafficking, robbery, shootings, prostitution and other crimes.
About 400 tactical officers were involved in the raids which were carried out in Toronto, London, Hamilton, Durham Region, York Region, Peel Region, Windsor and Ottawa.
White said the name Project Marvel was chosen because many of the alleged gang members had taken street names based on Marvel Comics characters.
Most of the arrests were made in the GTA.
Dozens of the accused moved through a courthouse in north Toronto Tuesday evening.
The court was full of lawyers, as well as friends and family of the accused. Some people were thrown out for using cellphones or trying to communicate with the accused in the prisoner's box.
A few of the accused were released on bail, but most were remanded into custody.
Investigation spread westward
There were also raids in Calgary and Surrey, B.C.
At least one arrest was made in Calgary.
In Windsor, Ont., two men were arrested. One, aged 30, was arrested at 1309 University Ave. W. and was taken to Toronto to face weapons-related charges. A 55-year-old man was arrested at 315 Josephine Ave. However, he has been released pending further investigation. No names were released but police said in a release that more arrests are possible.
Police in London, Ont., executed search warrants at two different addresses just before dawn. They had few details and directed all inquiries to the Toronto Police Service.
The police project began with an investigation into a shooting and street robbery in the northwest part of Toronto in May.
"The project quickly developed into a criminal organization involving two criminal gangs: the Young Buck Killas, also referred to as YBK, and the G-siders," said White.
He said the investigation quickly uncovered links that spread from Toronto, across Ontario and out through western Canada all the way to B.C.
"What we found in this investigation is we began with very locally based violent crimes. And as that investigation progressed we found linkages between those gangs and individuals who actually came from our [Toronto] neighbourhoods and moved out to those jurisdictions.... who continued in criminal activity," said Toronto police Chief Bill Blair.
Police said as the investigation matured, it spread to other jurisdictions in Ontario and then to Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Fort McMurray, Alta.
Police say officers from more than 20 police forces, Canada Border Services Agency, and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were involved in the investigation.
Police say the investigation isn't over and they expect more arrests in the coming days.