Twenty-nine people have been arrested and 279 charges have been laid as part of Project Shoreham, a combined effort between the Barrie Police Service and the OPP targeting an alleged drug-trafficking network in Simcoe County and Muskoka.
As a result of the investigation, police say they seized six high-end vehicles, almost $24,000 in cash, six firearms, about $20,000 in stolen property and copious amounts of illicit drugs, including fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine.
“Project Shoreham stands as an example of law enforcement agencies working together for one common goal: to hold people responsible for distributing these drugs and to relentlessly endeavour to protect our citizens,” OPP deputy commissioner Chuck Cox said at a press conference Tuesday.
The Barrie Police Service says it began Project Shoreham in the middle of the summer.
The investigation quickly grew after police allege a group connected to the Greater Toronto Area chose Barrie and Angus as locations for street distribution of cocaine, fentanyl and methamphetamine that officers say would otherwise be trafficked and sold in other areas around Simcoe and Muskoka.
At the press conference, Cox said the OPP became involved when the alleged drug distribution network expanded to communities within its jurisdiction, namely Wasaga Beach, Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Huntsville.
Officers say they executed an initial search warrant at a storage locker in Innisfil in early September that yielded a number of firearms and drugs.
Later that week, police say officers executed four more search warrants and seized cocaine, cannabis, crystal methamphetamine and heroin that contained fentanyl. The seizures also yielded six high-end vehicles, including three Mercedes Benzes, an Audi, a BMW, a 2019 Toyota Tundra pickup truck and about $20,000 in stolen property from a recently reported break-in, according to police.
More search warrants were then executed, which police say resulted in the seizure of opioids, methamphetamine, other controlled substances and firearms.
Officers say 28 search warrants were executed in total throughout the investigation.
“There has been a shift of the Greater Toronto Area coming up to Simcoe County, the District of Muskoka as points of distribution,” Barrie police Chief Kimberley Greenwood said at the press conference.
“I think people are looking for expanding their drug empires, and we’re seeing a shift in distribution across the province — not just in the city of Barrie.”
Cox said the areas of Simcoe and Muskoka have been affected by the opioid crisis.
“We, along with all our law enforcement partners, are holding these criminals accountable for trafficking the drugs that are ultimately responsible for hurting people in our communities,” he added.
All the people who were arrested are before the court and have either been remanded in custody or have future court dates, police say.