ABOVE: Toronto Police launched a series of raids across the GTA Wednesday morning, and arrested 50 people. Global’s Mark Carcasole explains why.
TORONTO – Rival gangs, illegal drugs and weapons were the target of large scale police raids across the Greater Toronto Area early Wednesday morning.
Police from multiple jurisdictions arrested a total of 50 people in a dual investigation called Project RX and Project Battery, revealed Toronto police Acting Chief Mark Saunders during a press briefing.
The “Sick Thugs” and “Asian Assassins” were named in the operation and Saunders said both groups had an extensive reach across Southern Ontario.
“The firearms, the shootings, drug distribution, those are the primary issues that gave us focus,” he said. “We commenced the investigation based on that.”
Acting Chief Saunders said he won’t directly link these arrests to any murders but “wouldn’t be surprised” if charges come up as a result of the investigation.
Police issued 53 search warrants with the raids beginning around 5 a.m. targeting several Toronto neighbourhoods including Regent Park and Liberty Village.
Armed tactical officers were seen surrounding a highrise building on Western Battery Road where at least four people were brought out in handcuffs.
Police say other regions targeted were Peel, York, Durham, Waterloo, Guelph, London, Brantford and Niagara.
WATCH: Toronto Police acting chief Mark Saunders discusses the Wednesday morning across the GTA
In addition to the arrests, 35 firearms were seized including large quantities of cash, cocaine and marijuana.
The accused are expected to appear in court Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Acting Chief Saunders said a more thorough description of the raids, included arrests and charges, will be provided on Thursday.