Central American gang was plotting murder in Toronto, police say

Toronto police say they have foiled a murder conspiracy and broken up a violent Central American gang trying to establish itself in the city.

Toronto police say they have foiled a murder conspiracy and broken up a violent Central American gang trying to establish itself in the city.

On Wednesday police arrested 17 people who they say are suspected members of Mara Salvatrucha-13 — also know as MS-13 — a gang with roots in El Salvador that operates throughout Central America, southern Mexico and the U.S.

The suspected gang members arrested Wednesday have been implicated by police in the sale of illegal drugs and guns. 

They also suspect the gang has taken part in several violent robberies and break and enters. 

Along with seizing guns and between five and six kilos of cocaine during their raids on 22 residences on Wednesday, police also say they uncovered a conspiracy to murder someone connected to the justice system. They refused to be more specific.

Toronto Police chief Bill Blair said the conspiracy fits with past behaviour on the part of the gang.

"They have demonstrated in many other jurisdictions a willingness to use violence to intimidate participants in the criminal justice system — witnesses, police officers, corrections officers, judges, lawyers, Crown attorneys," said Blair.

"They will use violence in order to shield themselves from criminal prosecution."

The raids were a joint effort by the Toronto Police Service emergency task force, as well as the guns and gangs unit and other police forces.

Most of the raids were conducted in Toronto's west end. Four search warrants were executed in Peel Region and one in York.

The names of the accused and the specific charges were released late Thursday afternoon in a police news release.