Thunder Bay

Smaller police services need better access to provincial guns and gangs funding: Thunder Bay police chief

The Thunder Bay Police Service had a role in a months-long investigation by Toronto police that led to the "dismantling" of a southern Ontario gang that had been involved in criminal activities across the province.

Thunder Bay police helped with Project Sunder, a large-scale investigation focussed on a southern Ontario gang

Thunder Bay's police chief says smaller police services need better access to provincial guns and gangs funding. (Christina Jung / CBC)

The Thunder Bay Police Service's role in a major, province-wide investigation that "dismantled" a southern Ontario gang shows that smaller police services need more resources to combat gangs and gun crimes in their communities, the city's police chief said.

Project Sunder targeted the Eglinton West Crips, and was headed up by Toronto police, with support from several other municipal services in the province, including Thunder Bay, and OPP.

Toronto police said the investigation involved 141 search warrants being executed across the province. Thirty-one firearms were seized, as were large quantities of cocaine, fentanyl, and crystal methamphetamine, as well as more than $300,000 in cash.

A report on the investigation was presented to the Thunder Bay Police Services Board this week; at the meeting, Thunder Bay police chief Sylvie Hauth said smaller communities like Thunder Bay should have better access to provincial gangs and guns funding.

"We're adding six officers to the [Thunder Bay Police Service] guns and gangs unit, which is huge," Hauth said. "But this is, again, something that's coming internally, from our own budget."

"I think it's important to continue advocating through the [Thunder Bay Police Services Board] to the ministry, so that we can access similar funding as some of the bigger, larger services have received."

Hauth said warrants were executed simultaneously in different Ontario communities during Project Sunder, which contributed to the investigation's overall success.

In the original Project Sunder media release, Toronto police said more than 114 people are expected to face more than 800 charges as a result of the investigation.

On Wednesday, a Toronto police spokesperson said an update on those potential charges wasn't yet available.

How many of those arrests took place in Thunder Bay wasn't provided.