64 stolen vehicles worth $3.5M shipped back to Canada from Malta: York Regional police

The York Regional Police logo is seen in this file image. Global News

Police in York Region say 64 vehicles valued at $3.5 million have been recovered in the Republic of Malta, and have been returned to Canada.

York Regional Police said the vehicles were recovered as part of Project Majestic.

The force said it partnered with the Canada Border Service Agency, the Malta Port Authority and Customs and Equité Association to identify and locate the stolen vehicles.

Officers said the vehicles were inside shipping containers and were set to be “sold illegally.”

According to police, Project Majestic began in 2021, with members of the Toronto police and Peel Regional Police.

“Investigators identified a criminal syndicate responsible for stealing high-end vehicles, including Lexus, Toyota and Honda sport utility vehicles, from residential driveways across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA),” police said in a news release.

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Officers said the suspects allegedly entered the vehicles and reprogramed the ignition computers, which allowed them to be driven away using a new key.

The vehicles were then either driven to the Port of Montreal or loaded into shipping containers in Toronto and transported to Montreal by rail.

Police said the containers were then loaded onto ships to be delivered to buyers in Africa and the United Arab Emirates.

Officers said on March 16, 2021, eight search warrants were executed in the Toronto area and in Brossard, Que.

Police said between March 2021 and December 2022, more than 70 vehicles reported stolen were seized, valued at more than $4.5 million.

Officers said those vehicles were in addition to the recently recovered vehicles in Malta, bringing the total number of recovered vehicles to over 130, valued at $8 million.

According to police, 18 people have been charged with more than 170 offences.

The charges include conspiracy, trafficking of property obtained by crime, and theft of a motor vehicle.

Police said the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers.


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