Hundreds of police officers descended on nearly 80 homes across Ontario in a co-ordinated raid that left a major hole in a sophisticated and growing Toronto-based street gang with tentacles across the province and Western Canada, Toronto police said Thursday.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said 120 people were arrested during the raids that occurred between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. in six cities, including Toronto and Sudbury, Ont., and netted a significant amount of drugs, including the deadly opioid fentanyl, cocaine and heroin, as well as weapons.
The investigation — dubbed Project Kronic — was launched in May last year and targeted the Driftwood Crips street gang.
Saunders said police laid more than 660 charges that include criminal organization offences, attempted murder, trafficking firearms, kidnapping conspiracies, robbery and drug trafficking.
"These are thugs that are trying to intimidate neighbourhoods and gain control and participate in unlawful activity," Saunders said at news conference Thursday afternoon.
"There is a growth in occupying territory. Before they controlled the area of Driftwood (in northwest Toronto) and only the area of Driftwood. Now as we can see in this particular investigation, they have the ability of reaching into further areas of the country."
Police allege the gang is a criminal organization with cells in various communities in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
"The Driftwood Crips has been one of the older gangs in the city of Toronto," he said. "They go far back to when I was in the homicide squad running investigations, and they're involved in murders back then."
The primary goal of the investigation, the chief said, was to identify the gang's leadership and its members, figure out who supplied drugs and weapons and "solve historical serious crimes."
He alleged the Driftwood Crips have a clear, ranked structure with a number of leaders controlling separate cells, even some who run operations while incarcerated.
"We allege that a member of the Driftwood Crips was supplying a large quantity of fentanyl and cocaine to a network of dealers in the Sudbury area, which include a member from Hells Angels," Saunders said.
Saunders said further details of the investigation will be released at another news conference on Friday.