Project KIRBY nets 10 arrests in alleged Ont. guns, drugs operation

Police release details of a major cross-border weapons investigation.

Investigators say the guns were destined for Toronto and other parts of southwestern Ontario

Several handguns were seized during Project KIRBY. Police said all alleged gun transactions happened in the city of Windsor (OPP)

Ten people have been charged with a combined 111 offences as the result of an international gun smuggling investigation in southern Ontario.

Project KIRBY began in March 2015 when the OPP began investigating several residents of Windsor and Essex County. Police were specifically looking at the importation and sale of illegal guns between Michigan and Ontario.

Undercover officers purchased guns from people, mostly operating near the Windsor region, explained. Det. Insp. Jim Smyth of the OPP, who was the major case manager for project KIRBY.

The weapons were typically smuggled across the border one or two at a time and then sold to members of organized crime.

"They were orchestrating sales, once they got into the country, to various organized crime groups to help them run their businesses," he said.

Several police forces were involved in Project KIRBY, including the OPP, Windsor and London police, Canada Border Services Agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs and Homeland Security. (OPP)

Last month, police executed eight search warrants in Windsor, Essex County and London.

Police seized eight guns, two kilograms of cocaine, drug trafficking packaging and paraphernalia, $67,000 in Canadian cash and $10,500 US.

Police also seized three vehicles and related property.

Supt. Edward Hickey of the Windsor police did not say specifically where the guns were intended to be sold, but he talked about how gun smugglers typically sell their firearms in larger Ontario cities.

"Based on our intelligence and past information, they end up going up the highway," he said. 

Hickey repeatedly stressed that the investigations were targeted, indicating guns were not ending up in the streets of Windsor.

"We don't have an abundance of guns running in our neighbourhoods," he said.  

Cocaine was some of the drugs seized by police during Project KIRBY. (OPP)

Investigators said the guns coming across the border were destined for organized crime groups operating in the Toronto area as well as in southwestern Ontario.

At a news conference Thursday, police also said undercover officers posing as members of organized crime groups bought some of the illegal guns in the GTA.

Police also said they focused on people hiding in the shadows and smuggling guns.

Police seized weapons from a variety of places during Project KIRBY. (OPP)

The 10 people arrested are charge with weapons, drugs and proceeds of crime offences.

Those charged range in age, from 23 to 51. Seven are from the Windsor-Essex area; one is from London; and one is from Detroit. The last person has no fixed address.

One suspect remains at large somewhere in Canada, police said. Investigators believe the person is in either Windsor or the Greater Toronto area. A second suspect, a U.S. citizen from Michigan, is also wanted. 

Police seized $67,000 CAN during Project KIRBY. (OPP)

Several police forces are involved, including the OPP, Windsor and London police, Canada Border Services Agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs and Homeland Security

Police allege cash was hidden in a wall in a closet at one of the sites where a warrant was executed.

With files from CP