Montreal is once again ramping up its efforts to combat the spate of gun violence and fatal shootings in the area in recent months.
Mayor Valérie Plante and the city’s police department announced the creation of a permanent squad to tackle firearms trafficking Thursday.
“The situation greatly worries us,” Plante said, while noting that the city remains a safe place to live.
The special task force known as ELTA will comprise at least 20 Montreal police officers in a bid to clamp down on the uptick in violence seen across the city this year. The goal is also to ensure citizens feel safe in their neighbourhoods.
The team “will allow investigations to be deepened with the ultimate goal of arresting the heads of existing networks and thus attacking the arms trafficking market,” according to the city.
Plante says it will be funded by the existing budget for the police department.
The permanent team comes as the city has been targeting gun trafficking and violence throughout the fall.
Last week, a large-scale police operation targeting the trafficking of guns and drugs in Montreal North led to five arrests.
Earlier this month, the police force launched a command post and carried out door-to-door visits in Rivière-des-Prairies after a series of shootings in Montreal’s northeastern end.
In September, the city also boosted patrols following a shootout in the Old Port where five people were wounded.
Montreal police Chief Sylvain Caron says the new team is an important step in curbing violent crimes and will work in collaboration with other squads.
Since the spring, there has been an “unacceptable” increase in crimes related to weapons and police must now “take efforts to another level,” he added.
“What we want with ELTA is to go deeper into our investigations,” Caron said. “It takes time, energy and a lot of work. We want to seize firearms before they are used in criminal purposes.”
The squad is expected to be up and running by late January 2021.
— With files from The Canadian Press