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Toronto police seize more than $5.6M of illicit drugs in cross-border smuggling operation

Click to play video: 'Six persons charged in drugs and firearms investigation called Project Switch'
Six persons charged in drugs and firearms investigation called Project Switch
At a news conference Thursday morning, Toronto police said they have charged six people in a drugs and firearms investigation called Project Switch – Aug 2, 2018

Toronto police say six people have been arrested for their alleged involvement in smuggling approximately $5.6 million worth of illicit drugs from the United States into Canada.

Police said their investigation, which began in February and named Project Switch, resulted in the seizure of 52 kilograms of cocaine, 7.4 kilograms of heroin and 3 kilograms of MDMA destined for the streets of Toronto.

“As the investigation began to unfold, it became evident that there were two distinct groups involved in this cocaine and heroin operation,” Staff Supt. Myron Demkiw said during a news conference Thursday morning.

Investigators said the groups operated as a network for the large-scale distribution of illicit drugs that were being transported by tractor-trailers across the U.S.-Canada border.

Authorities said 25 legally owned firearms were also seized, as well as around $288,000 in cash and nine vehicles.

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Police said the weapons seized were owned by one individual, and although the suspect had a gun licence and the firearms were registered, they could have gotten into the wrong hands.

“Anyone that’s in possession of small amounts of drugs, large amounts of drugs, firearms and/or money, is subject to being victim to whether it be a home invasion, whether it be a street robbery, whether it be a break and enter, and you’re a legally registered firearm owner. We’ve had numerous examples of that,” Acting Insp. Steve Watts said.

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VIDEO: Toronto police provides details of drugs and firearms investigation called Project Switch

Click to play video: 'Toronto police provides details of drugs and firearms investigation called Project Switch'
Toronto police provides details of drugs and firearms investigation called Project Switch

“At least one of the firearms was found in very close proximity to a large quantity of controlled substances, being heroin and cocaine. When you have a 12-gauge shotgun on top of controlled substances, hypothetically, is the purpose to go duck hunting or is it to protect that product?”

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Police said 11 search warrants were executed in Toronto, Holland Landing, Mississauga, Concord, and Woodbridge.

Authorities said the drug probe also involved the Asian organized crime task force – a joint forces unit comprised of investigators from the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, OPP, York and Peel police.

The suspects have been identified as Lorenzo Lam, 25, David Littledale, 35, Trung Duc Pham, 31, Quynh Vu, 33, Duc Hoang, 34, and Myleene Kavalak, 33. They all face numerous drug trafficking charges including possession of proceeds of crime and gun-related offences.

Police said they are still looking for 34-year-old Joevannie Peart in connection with the investigation.

Earlier this summer, police announced the largest single seizure of guns in the city’s history allegedly linked to the notorious Five Point Generalz street gang.

The gun seizures were part of a nine-month investigation called Project Patton that resulted in the arrests of 75 people and over 1,000 charges laid.

Police said dozens of search warrants were carried out in the Greater Toronto Area, including Toronto and Durham, York and Peel regions. Authorities said more than 800 officers from various police departments took part in the Project Patton raids.

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Investigators said that during the course of their investigation, officers obtained 60 handguns during a single seizure linked to a sophisticated smuggling operation.

VIDEO: Toronto police say they’ve made largest single seizures of guns city’s history

Click to play video: 'Toronto police say they’ve made largest single seizures of guns city’s history'
Toronto police say they’ve made largest single seizures of guns city’s history

 

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