Police arrest nearly 70 people in overnight raids targeting Five Point Generalz street gang

Some 70 people allegedly affiliated with a violent Toronto street gang were arrested in raids overnight Thursday, Toronto police said.

Officers seize drugs, weapons in raids

Toronto police officers in a neighbourhood near Weston Road and Eglinton Avenue West at around 5 a.m. Thursday. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

Some 70 people allegedly affiliated with a violent west-end street gang were arrested in raids overnight Thursday, Toronto police said. 

More than 800 police officers executed some 50 warrants targeting the Five Point Generalz, an alleged criminal group  that has roots in the area of Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue West.

The raids were the result of a nine-month investigation into the gang dubbed Project Patton, according to Chief Mark Saunders. Arrests were made in Toronto, Durham, York and Peel regions.

During a news conference at Toronto police headquarters, Saunders said the group has been "operating as a highly co-ordinated criminal organization" that has ties to other criminal elements in the U.S. and Caribbean. 

A Toronto police canine squad took part in the raids. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

Police recovered a "large quantity" of drugs and firearms during the raids, Saunders said. He also alleged the group is responsible for "numerous violent offences" throughout Toronto, though declined to provide specifics.

"This gang had definite significant impact on violent crimes occurring across the city, but specifically within that area of the city, the west end of the city," he said.

The chief said more information about charges and the details of Project Patton is coming this week.

"The investigation is fluid and there will be more arrests," Saunders told reporters, adding that the probe "dismantled" a significant element of the gang.

A man is led away in handcuffs during the operation. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

The raids come amid a recent spate of gun violence in the GTA, including a shooting at a Scarborough playground that left two girls injured. Saunders denied that public pressure played a role in the decision to execute the warrants now. 

The Five Point Generalz have a long history in Toronto, and have been the target of large-scale police investigations in the past.