More than 660 charges laid after early morning raids on Driftwood Crips gang

A multi-jurisdictional investigation into a notorious street gang ended in the execution of search and arrest warrants across Ontario on Thursday morning.

Ontario-wide operation led to 120 arrests, including a major fentanyl distributor, police say

A man is escorted out of a North York, Ont., condo building in the Leslie Street and Sheppard Avenue area as a part of a multi-jurisdictional investigation into the street gang Driftwood Crips. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

A multi-jurisdictional investigation into a notorious street gang ended with about 120 people being arrested across the province by more than 800 police officers in the early hours of Thursday morning. 

"Project Kronic" — led by Toronto police with help from 19 different police services, including York Regional Police, Ontario Provincial Police, and the Greater Sudbury Police — was a year-long investigation that targeted the Driftwood Crips and their associates.

Those arrested now face about 660 charges in total, including attempted murder, kidnapping and robbery, said Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders at a news conference on Thursday. 

Gang grew out of Toronto neighbourhood

Police said the gang, which was modelled after a street gang from Los Angeles, began in Toronto before spreading to multiple communities in Ontario as well as to Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.

"We believe the Driftwood Crips have a clear ranked structure, a number of leaders in control of separate cells, some of whom are running their operations while incarcerated," said Saunders.

He said the goals of Project Kronic were to identify gang members and leaders, solve crimes committed by them, determine who supplied them with drugs and firearms, and reduce the "threat" to the communities they live in. 

Alleged fentanyl distributor arrested in Sudbury

Many of those arrested are facing drug charges related to trafficking heroin, crystal meth, marijuana and fentanyl, among others drugs. 

"A member of the Driftwood Crips was supplying a large quantity of fentanyl and cocaine to a network of dealers in the Sudbury area, including a member of Hells Angels," said Saunders. 

When asked if the arrests would make a dent in the province's growing opioid crisis, Saunders called it a "starting point."

"It's a good day," he went on. "But there are a lot more things that we have to do when it comes to the discussion on opioids." 

Driftwood Crips targeted in past raids

Toronto police had also targeted the Driftwood Crips with raids in 2007.

The police chief at the time, Bill Blair, had said following a number of arrests that there was "one less street gang terrorizing the neighbourhoods in the city of Toronto" as a result. 

Saunders acknowleged Thursday that "with time and opportunity," the gang had substantially expanded since then. 

More details on probes to come

"We are all safer as a result" of Project Kronic, said Saunders, congratulating police for a safe and successful operation.

He said that more details will be revealed about the investigation and the media will be shown some of the contraband seized. 

All of the accused will appear in bail court on Thursday.