Sweeping police raids target Driftwood Crips

Toronto has "one less street gang" terrorizing its streets, the city's police chief boasted Wednesday, after a series of pre-dawn raids in the city and surrounding area netted about 60 suspects, including airport workers.

Six Toronto airport workers among dozens arrested

Toronto has "one less street gang" terrorizing its streets, the city's police chief boasted Wednesday, after a series of pre-dawn raids in the city and surrounding area nettedabout 60suspects, including airport workers.
Heavily armed officers enter one of dozens of Toronto homes and apartment complexes raided at dawn.

"The individuals who we allege to be members of that gang are now in custody and the neighbourhood is safe from their criminal enterprise," Toronto police Chief Bill Blair said at a news conference Wednesday.

The Driftwood Crips, modelled after the notorious street gang born in Los Angeles, Calif., were targeted in the investigation.Driftwood refers to an area in the Jane-Finch neighbourhood of Toronto.

Blair estimates the Driftwood Crips are only one of about 20 or 25 street gangs currently operating in Toronto.

Smuggling drugs through airport

Early Wednesday morning, asteady stream of suspects were hauled into several Toronto police divisions afterheavily armed ETF teams raided homes across the Greater Toronto Area, as far north as Barrie and west in the Niagara Region. The bulk of the raidstook place inToronto's Jane-Finch neighbourhood.

Among those arrested were six workers from Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

Whilethose arrested represent only a small number of the 100,000 airport employees, RCMP Supt. Robert Davis said,the arrestshave put a "significant dent" in the flow of contraband through Canada's busiest airport.

Davis said those arrested worked in the cargo area or ramp system and were associates of the gang, which smuggled drugs through the airport.

Police said they seized drugs worth an estimated $1 million, including 30 kilograms of cocaine, nine kilos of hash oil and several kilos of marijuana.

Blair said he believes the raids will result in more witnesses coming forward to police about crimes committed in their neighbourhoods, lifting the so-called cone of silence encountered in some crimes.

"Some of these individuals have been quite brazen in their activity. I think they have been emboldened by the silence of intimidation that we so often hear about in neighbourhoods. But I'm hoping today that they're feeling a little less bold and a little less brazen," the chief said.

"I hope they realize that the people in the communities that they've terrorized are fed up and have had enough and are going to work with police."

Recent brazen shootings

The raids come in the wake of a brazen daytime shooting last weekend, whenone man was killed and three were woundedas cars raced down a residential street in Rexdale in the city's northwest. The survivors refused to give information to police about the shooting.

Last month'sshooting death of Jordan Manners, 15,inside his high school in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood added to the pressure to crack down on gun violence in the city.

Manners'sdeath sparked a lot of public outcry and resulted in the creation of a two-member provincial commission to investigate what can be done to address youth violence.

However, police denied that recent shootings had anything to do with Wednesday's raids.

At a Driftwood Avenue area housing development, one of the targeted areas, some residents said police were wasting their time.

"It's the same thing every summer," Ricardo Silva said. "Police goes in… and then a couple of weeks later they release all of them back in the same place."