Millions worth of illegal drugs, guns seized across 3 organized crime networks in Ontario

Click to play video: '$8M worth of illegal guns, drugs seized during Project Moffatt in Ontario'
$8M worth of illegal guns, drugs seized during Project Moffatt in Ontario
WATCH: $8M worth of illegal guns, drugs seized during Project Moffatt in Ontario – Aug 9, 2023

Several police forces across Ontario have seized $8 million worth of illicit drugs and illegal firearms after taking down three criminal organizations, Ontario Provincial Police say.

The Ontario Provincial Police said at a press conference on Wednesday that Project Moffatt was launched to dismantle those trafficking fentanyl and methamphetamine as well as deadly weapons.

“We discovered not one but three criminal networks were responsible for selling vast quantities of illicit drugs,” Det. Insp. Lee Fulford told reporters.

Fulford said one criminal network was based out of Peel Region, another was operating out of York Region, and the third was based out of a northeast region in Ontario. He also said the criminal networks had ties to street gangs.

Fourteen search warrants were executed on July 18 and 19 in multiple locations such as Toronto, Vaughan, Barrie, Brampton, Mississauga, Oakville, North Bay, Englehart and Pickering, Fulford said.

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Project Moffatt was jointly led by several police forces, including the OPP, Peel Regional Police, York Regional Police, Barrie Police and Ottawa Police. There was also support from Durham Regional Police and Toronto Police.

Project Moffatt. Ontario Provincial Police

Investigators seized 12 kilograms of fentanyl, which is equivalent to over 120,000 street-level doses, Fulford said.

“This is a staggering statistic,” Fulford said.

Officers also seized 25 kilograms of cocaine, five kilograms of crystal meth, 260,000 methamphetamine tablets and 29 firearms — all compact handguns, many with overcapacity magazines, Fulford noted.

The total street value of illegal guns and illicit drugs is over $8 million. There was also $790,000 worth of property seized, including 10 vehicles, Fulford added.

Police arrested 23 people and laid 387 criminal charges.

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“In addition to drug trafficking, they were also conspiring with others to procure firearms from the United States which would later be sold for profit or used to facilitate other criminal activities,” Fulford said.

“A disturbing trend that we are seeing across Ontario is just how quickly firearms can be purchased in the United States, smuggled into Canada and used to commit criminal offences,” Fulford said.

The guns seized by police in Project Moffatt. Ontario Provincial Police

Meanwhile, Fulford said search warrants were also executed at Maplehurst correctional complex in Milton and the Collin’s Bay institution in Kingston.

He said the reason for searching the jails was to gather “further evidence” against three of the accused who were allegedly facilitating the illegal trafficking of firearms from behind bars.

“It saddens me to think that some offenders have such blatant disregard for the law that they are willing to continue to commit crimes even while serving time in custody,” Fulford said.

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The OPP did mention that during “the final enforcement stage,” there was an interaction with police officers in Innisfil that resulted in the province’s Special Investigations Unit invoking its mandate.

The SIU is an independent agency that investigates the conduct of Ontario police officers in incidents that cause serious injury, death or alleged sexual assault.

Peel Regional Police Supt. Dawn Orr said that four of the seized guns came from their region and noted a trend in those they are arresting.

“I do want to highlight that more and more we are capturing those that are reoffending. Many of those arrested are on some type of judicial release,” Orr said on Wednesday.

Barrie Police’s deputy chief Wyllie Allan spoke about the impact of fentanyl in that city.

“Barrie had the third highest rate of opioid-related deaths amongst Ontario’s large cities,” Allan said. “More than half of the deaths were in young adults between the ages of 20 and 44 years.”


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