Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said 70 people linked to the notorious Five Point Generalz street gang have been arrested following a number of early morning raids across the Greater Toronto Area on Thursday.
“As the investigation progressed, it became apparent that this group had been involved in numerous violent offences involving firearms and further, that they were active in the sale and distribution of illegal narcotics,” Saunders told reporters during a press conference at Toronto police headquarters on Thursday.
“Over the course of nine months, investigators gathered evidence on dozens of individuals affiliated to the Five Point Generalz, who we allege were operating as a highly coordinated criminal organization.”
VIDEO: Toronto Police announce massive crackdown on Five Point Generals gang
Toronto police said more than 50 search warrants were carried out around 5 a.m. in Toronto, Durham, York and Peel Region. Authorities said more than 800 officers from various police departments took part in Project Patton.
Saunders said the street gang, which has been operating in the west end of the city for more than a decade, has been dealt a significant blow as a result of the arrests.
“We allege the Five Point Generalz are a dangerous street gang that, while having roots in the area surrounding Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue West, its criminal activities extended throughout Toronto and the GTA, and Canada, the United States as well as in the Caribbean,” Saunders said.
“Our investigators are confident that Project Patton has effectively disrupted and dealt a significant blow to the hierarchy and operations of the Five Point Generalz.”
VIDEO: Saunders: No magic pill when it comes to community safety
Saunders said a significant number of firearms and narcotics were also seized, but exact details will be provided at a press conference Friday morning.
The street gang arrests follow a series a violent gun play and homicides across the city in recent weeks. In once such incident, it resulted with two young girls being hospitalized after they were both shot at a playground in Scarborough.
The police chief said that although the recent arrests are not linked to that particular shooting, the gun violence in the city is not at epidemic levels.
“When we look at the numbers, the numbers are indicating that really we have five more gun occurrences a month, for this year, compared to last year. That’s not a tremendous increase but it is still moving in the wrong direction,” he said.
“When we talk about victims being shot, it’s one person more a month, which is still not a good day. We still have to figure out how to reduce that, but to say that this is egregious and tremendously horrific compared to, I will push back and say no. It is a concern, we are looking after it, and working with communities. Hopefully we can reduce those numbers.”
Saunders said street gang activity plays a major role in the proliferation of gun violence in the city and making arrests is just one step to ensuring communities are safe.
“We’re talking about street gangs that utilize firearms for business processes and have no hesitation in using firearms, when we talk about gun play in our city, the street gangs play a huge, massive role in that type of activity,” Saunders said.
“There’s no magic pill to community safety. Toronto police, we play on strong element, that’s the enforcement piece. I really do think that if we are going to get this right, and I’ve said this before, there has to be a more holistic solution.”
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