A year-long, cross-border firearms trafficking investigation has led to the arrests of 42 people and the seizure of 173 guns in Canada and the U.S, Toronto police said on Tuesday.
A total of 422 criminal charges were filed as a result of the probe, called Project Moneypenny, police told a press conference.
Among the accused are Canadians who allegedly sold guns acquired in the United States to undercover officers in Toronto.
Many of the guns were legally purchased in the U.S. states of Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio and Texas, police said.
The weapons haul includes 86 guns confiscated in the Greater Toronto Area, mostly semi-automatic pistols, and another 87 handguns seized by U.S. law enforcement in Chicago from a vehicle destined for Canada, police told reporters.
Of the 42 Canadians arrested, over half were from Toronto. Others were from Barrie, Ont., Pickering, Ont., Whitby, Ont. and Winnipeg. Seven of the suspects were 18 or younger, police said.
Toronto Police Services and partners speak on April 11 about Operation Moneypenney, which saw 42 people arrested, 422 criminal charges laid and drugs, cash and 173 firearms seized in Canada and the U.S.
The Canadian Press
The investigation was launched by the Toronto Police Services Gun and Gang Task Force in March, 2022.
It was later expanded to involve the Canada Border Services Agency, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well as Canada’s Durham Regional Police and the Ontario Provincial Police.
“You can have significant legislation … [but] the way we combat this is through true collaboration with our partners in the ATF [U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] and all the states, specifically Arizona,” said Toronto police Superintendent Steve Watts.
“That’s the way you actually deter the flow across. It’s not through written legislation.”
The investigation also resulted in the seizure of over 1,400 rounds of ammunition, 45 over capacity magazines (magazines with more than 10 rounds), 1.5 kilograms of fentanyl and 1.8 kilograms of cocaine.
“Gun related violence poses great implications for public safety and cannot be tolerated,” said Ontario Provincial Police Chief Superintendent Paul Mackey.
“We are grateful for all of the partners who came together to send a clear message to those choosing to endanger our citizens: We do not tolerate gun violence in this province.”
The suspects have been charged in a Toronto court and their next appearance is scheduled for Friday.