Police seize $250K of fentanyl, charge 73 people in street gang investigation
Several hundred officers involved in 8-month 'Project Kraken,' police say
Toronto police say they're confident several "violent gang members" will go to jail after an eight-month, GTA-wide investigation that led to 73 people being charged and some $390,000 worth of narcotics seized.
Deputy Chief James Ramer gave an update Friday morning on Project Kraken, a co-ordinated effort involving hundreds of officers and 12 police services that targeted a "coordinated criminal organization."called the Chester Le gang.
The Chester Le gang reached across the GTA and were involved in "extensive gun and drug activity," Raymer said.
Some members ran an "extensive" drug trafficking network, Raymer said, which distributed predominantly fentanyl to Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Peterborough.
Numerous gang members committed "brazen armed robberies," Reymer alleged, with a "callous disregard for public safety."
There were two alleged robberies where tow truck drivers smashed through jewelry stores, Reymer said, and guns were discharged.
The Project Kraken investigation focused on the Chester Le gang, as well as its members' association with people "having ties to more traditional organized crime," said Raymer.
Tow trucks driving into jewelry stores
A total of 73 people now face charges, Reymer said, with arrests across Toronto, Hamilton, South Simcoe, Peel, York and Durham region.
Police laid a total of 599 charges, including for participating in a criminal organization, drugs and firearms-related offences, and robberies.
Raymer said police have significantly disrupted the gang's operations heiarchy.
Police seized $250,000 of fentanyl and $85,000 worth of firearms during the ongoing investigation, which led to early morning raids across the GTA on Thursday.
Community town halls on gangs
Police said they seized more than 1,050 grams of cocaine, 1,100 grams of fentanyl, 1,100 grams of Clonazepam and 840 grams of Percocet, among other drugs.
Police also seized 23 firearms, which were on display at the press conference Friday, as well as cash, stun guns and body armour.
Some guns were seized from tow truck operators, who were armed and prepared to shoot other drivers over an ongoing territory battle, Reymer said.
The gun and gangs unit will host 31 community town hall meetings in various neighbourhoods this fall, aiming to educate people on gangs, resources and programs.
Chief of Police Mark Saunders announced some details of the investigation on Thursday.
Police arrested 37 people in the early morning hours on Thursday as they executed numerous search warrants across the GTA. Another 43 people had previously been arrested as part of the investigation.
Reymer said the investigation will have a "direct and positive impact on communities throughout the GTA."
With files from The Canadian Press