Police bust major organized crime ring

Calling it a wake-up call to Canadians, police said Thursday they cracked a major Eastern European crime ring operating out of Toronto.

More than 30 suspects were picked up in the Toronto area. They arrested Yury Dinaburgsky, a key figure in the organization, at his upscale home in Richmond Hill, north of the city.

The RCMP say arrests were also made in Montreal, Ottawa, Windsor, and some cities in the United States.

Police call the operation Project OsaDa, the Russian word for under siege. It began two years ago with the arrest and deportation of Russian mob kingpin Vyacheslav Sliva.

The suspects are accused of a wide range of crimes, from laundering money and trafficking drugs to armed robbery and murder.

The smashed ring will make a major dent in organized crime in central Canada, according to the RCMP.

Police say the Eastern European gang members set up shop in Canada because of a lenient justice system.

Southern Ontario, in particular, has become a safe haven for criminals, according to investigators.

Jeffrey Robinson, an international crime expert agrees. He says the mobsters treat Canada like a candy store.

"It's a rich country with a global network banking system easy to launder money through the system, easy to move through the system, easy to defraud banks," he said in a CBC TV interview from London.

Immigration Canada expects about half of those arrested will face deportation after their court cases. And police expect to make up to 17 more arrests before they're finished.