A violent Toronto street gang has been dealt a “significant” blow, Toronto police said Thursday, in a province-wide drug and gun bust.
At a press conference, Toronto police along with several other Ontario police forces, detailed the year-long investigation into the Eglinton West Crips.
“We are confident that with the assistance of our partner agencies, Project Sunder has significantly disrupted the criminal operations and hierarchy of the Eglinton West Crips gang,” said Toronto police Deputy Chief Myron Demkiw.
Police said they expect around 800 charges to be laid against 114 individuals once the project is complete. The charges include murder, firearms offences and human and drug trafficking. The police seized 31 firearms, seven kilograms of cocaine, two kilograms of fentanyl and two kilograms of crystal methamphetamine.
While overall crime in Toronto has decreased in the past several years, gang activity has risen. In particular, shooting incidents have increased.
According to the Toronto police’s Public Safety Data Portal, there have been 418 shooting incidents this year, with 37 deaths or injuries.
Ontario Provincial Police Chief Superintendent Paul Mackay spoke about the increasing influence of GTA-based street gangs in other areas of the province and the impacts this has on public safety.
“These criminal networks are opportunistic, they prey on our most vulnerable,” Mackay said.
The case began as a local investigation by the Toronto police but grew to involve 15 other jurisdictions including Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and several communities overseen by the Ontario Provincial Police (Orillia, Gravenhurst, North Bay, Napanee).
In an emailed response to the Toronto Observer, Toronto police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray gave further details on the scope of the investigation.
“This was the largest geographic project throughout different regions in Ontario that the Toronto Police Service has ever conducted,” Gray wrote Tuesday.
Gangs are increasingly expanding their reach outside of Toronto, she said, and their motives behind these expansions into smaller communities is money.
“It’s extremely financially lucrative to sell controlled substances in remote and more rural communities that will pay much higher than Toronto market value for their supply of illicit product,” Gray said.