Ontario Provincial Police say they’ve seized about 4,144 street level doses of fentanyl after executing nine search warrants and arresting 11 individuals connected to the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in a multi-jurisdictional drug-trafficking probe.
The investigation, dubbed Project Garfield, began in December 2020 when police became aware of a network of individuals from the GTA with ties to GTA-based street gangs. According to police, the gangs were responsible for trafficking fentanyl and crack cocaine in Simcoe County and Muskoka.
Officers said the network of people has been linked to fatal and non-fatal overdoses that occurred between January 2020 and February 2021 in Simcoe County, Barrie and Muskoka.
“Project Garfield has had significant impact on the proliferation of illicit and dangerous substances from the Greater Toronto Area into the City of Barrie, Simcoe County and the District of Muskoka,” OPP deputy commissioner Chuck Cox said in a statement.
“Law enforcement plays a crucial role in combatting the opioid crisis as the enforcement action against drug traffickers has a direct and substantial effect on the supply of harmful drugs in our communities.”
Police said the network of individuals operated as a criminal organization, with multiple people involved in facilitating drug transactions.
Last Thursday, police executed nine search warrants in Barrie, Toronto, Oshawa, Markham and Ajax. Officers seized 427 grams of fentanyl, 734 grams of cocaine, 53 grams of crack cocaine, 30 hydromorphone pills, 15 Oxycodone pills, about $109,000, four handguns, five cars, drug-trafficking paraphernalia and cellphones.
Eleven people are facing 148 drug and criminal charges, including drug-trafficking and organized crime-related offences.
Six of the accused were remanded into custody, while three were released on an undertaking and two were released on a recognizance.
The accused are all expected to appear in court on various dates in May and June.
Project Garfield was led by the OPP, with help from the Barrie Police Service and the Toronto Police Service. Police in Durham, Peel, Peterborough and York Region helped with the execution of search warrants.