One of the suspects arrested nearly two months ago in a major anti-gang operation is reported to be the man who tried to sell a video of Mayor Rob Ford allegedly smoking crack cocaine to The Toronto Star.
Mohamed Siad, 27, who is currently detained, is among the dozens of people nabbed in June during Project Traveller, a police operation against the Dixon City Bloods, an alleged ring of drugs and guns dealers based in a six-building complex on Etobicoke’s Dixon Road.
At a court appearance following his arrest, Mr. Siad’s lawyer, Daniel Brown, said his client had been placed in segregated custody. The Star says he was stabbed by other inmates.
Brent Ross, a spokesman for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, confirmed there was an incident on June 15 in which an inmate was injured but he couldn’t give more details because the matter is under investigation.
According to court documents filed after the arrests, Mr. Siad faces multiple charges for cocaine trafficking, weapons trafficking, unauthorized possession of a Ruger 44-calibre handgun, conspiracy to commit cocaine and weapons trafficking and participating in the activities of a criminal group, the Dixon City Bloods.
The Star said Friday that it has recognized Mr. Siad as the man who showed them a cellphone video from the back seat of a car parked near the Dixon Road complex in May. The newspaper said it had been led to Mr. Siad after being approached by an intermediary whose name it did not disclose.
The two Star reporters who were shown the video saw Mr. Siad when he had a court date after his arrest and briefly appeared by video link-up from his detention centre.
After the Star was approached in May, the video was also peddled to the American gossip website Gawker, whose editor, John Cook, flew to Toronto to view it. Neither the Star nor Gawker purchased the video.
Gawker said Friday that Mr. Cook thinks “this appears to be same man he met in Toronto, though he can’t be certain.”
It isn’t clear if the man recorded the video himself or whether he came in possession of the cellphone.
Toronto police learned of the existence of the alleged video during their year-long investigation in Project Traveller, a source familiar with the probe has told The Globe and Mail.
On May 16, the Star and Gawker both reported that they had been approached to buy the video.
According to a source, less than 24 hours after The Star and Gawker published their stories, Mr. Ford’s then chief of staff, Mark Towhey, was contacted by one of the mayor’s aides, David Price, who said an informant had told him the location of the video, right down to the unit number at 320 Dixon Rd.
Mr. Price also said he was told the video’s original owner had been killed by someone hoping to obtain it, the source said.
Mr. Towhey contacted the police, the source said, and was interviewed by two detectives. Toronto police have said the interview was not connected to a homicide. Mr. Towhey was fired less than a week later after he quarrelled with the mayor over whether Mr. Ford had an addiction problem, a suggestion that the mayor has repeatedly denied.
The man who approached the Star and Gawker bolstered his claim that a video existed by showing them a photo of Mr. Ford standing with three young men outside a bungalow a few hundred metres from the Dixon Rd. complex.
One of three men pictured with the mayor, Anthony Smith, 21, was shot dead outside of a club on King Street West in March.
The other two young men, Muhammad Khattak, who was wounded in the shooting, and Monir Kasim, were both arrested in the Project Traveller raids.
Toronto police, including Chief Bill Blair, have declined to say whether the mayor came up in the investigation, saying that it could taint the judicial proceedings against the accused.