Police raids target 'Asian Assassins' and 'Sick Thugz' gangs

Toronto police arrested more than 50 people Wednesday in a series of predawn raids they say target two sophisticated and "ruthless" rival gangs operating throughout the city

Tactical officers make 50 arrests in series of pre-dawn raids

Toronto police arrested more than 50 people in a pre-dawn raid targetting two rival street gangs in the city, and recovered weapons, drugs and money. 2:43

Toronto police arrested more than 50 people Wednesday in a series of predawn raids they say targeted two sophisticated and "ruthless" rival gangs operating across the city

Just after 5 a.m., police tactical units from a handful of different forces conducted a series of raids. Police say their targets were members of two rival gangs known as the Sick Thugz and the Asian Assassins.

Police plan to release details about charges tomorrow but deputy chief Mark Saunders said Wednesday he expects charges to include drug and human trafficking, along with organized crime and weapons charges.

"These gangs had a much bigger footprint than normal gangs," Saunders said at a morning press conference held a few hours after the early morning raids. "This is a much higher level of sophistication of criminal activity than we've seen in the past," he said.

Two gangs are fierce and violent rivals, police say

Saunders said the raids are part of two separate investigations titled "Project RX" — focused on the Sick Thugz gang — and "Project Battery," which targeted the Asian Assassins.

Saunders said the fierce rivalry between the two groups has resulted in shootings, but wouldn't say which ones.

He said police seized 10 firearms in the raids along with quantities of cash, cocaine, heroin and a cocaine press.

The raids were carried out at locations across the city Wednesday, including Liberty Village, Regent Park and College and Spadina. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

Members of the two groups were processed in different police division offices "for safety reasons," he said.

Saunders said police will provide more details at a separate news conference planned for Thursday, including details about charges.

Many of the suspects arrested will appear in court on Wednesday.

The morning arrests took place at various locations across the city, including Regent Park and Liberty Village.

Saunders said the arrests — which were carried out by heavily armed tactical officers — happened "seamlessly" and without incident.

With files from CBC's Tony Smyth, Linda Ward