Thursday, June 19, 2008

Two-Year Police Probe

Two-Year Police Probe Results In Dozens Of Arrests, Millions In Seized Weapons And Drugs

Thursday June 19, 2008

Police were up before the break of day Thursday, carrying out a series of raids as part of a major operation targeting illegal guns and drug trafficking.

Dozens were taken into custody and millions of dollars in weapons and drugs were seized as part of an extensive two-year investigation dubbed Project Blackhawk. Among the police services involved across the province: Toronto, Peel, York, Guelph, Waterloo, and the OPP.

The suspects were brought to Toronto Police 23 Division in Rexdale Thursday from about 30 different locations across Ontario.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair noted that a tip from U.S. authorities prompted the probe, which apparently uncovered a huge network of drug manufacturing and distribution and gun smuggling.

"The investigation began in 2006 as a result of information received from American law enforcement that 237 handguns had been smuggled into Canada from the United States," he explained.

"The persons involved in the smuggling of these weapons were quickly identified and have been the subjects of an intense, complex and ultimately successful investigation. Focusing on the identified co-conspirators, the investigative strategies of the Blackhawk team uncovered a dynamic and highly successful criminal enterprise operating out of the Greater Toronto Area."

An earlier bust at a Mississauga industrial complex in April, which saw major quantities of drugs seized, was linked to the ongoing Blackhawk investigation.

Blair estimates officers seized dozens of handguns, many of which were linked to a cache of weapons smuggled into Canada in 2006, and large quantities of methamphetamine, ecstasy tablets, cocaine, illegally-manufactured Viagra, marijuana and a large amount of cash. The estimated value of the seized drugs is more than $160 million.

Blair said another update in the case was scheduled for Friday.

There's no word yet on what charges the suspects face, and no names have been released.

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