Project Sunder was a one-year intelligence-led operation focused on individuals alleged to be responsible for serious crimes, including murder, attempted murder, firearms offences and drug trafficking from Toronto to Thunder Bay.
It’s the largest project geographically the Service has ever undertaken.
At a media conference at police headquarters on October 28, Toronto Police Deputy Chief Myron Demkiw said his Service’s Integrated Gun & Gang Task Force started an investigation in September 2019 into the Eglinton West Crips street gang.
“Early on, our intelligence led us to believe that members of the Eglinton West Crips and their associates were allegedly involved in numerous violent incidents and activities that had plagued our communities over the last three years,” he said.
Police are alleging that the gang was involved in extensive gun and drug trafficking networks spanning the province.
“These networks trafficked large quantities of narcotics, specifically cocaine and fentanyl, to many communities outside the Greater Toronto Area and as far away as Thunder Bay,” said Demkiw.
Based on evidence gathered throughout the investigation, it’s further alleged that the Eglinton West Crips operated as a coordinated criminal organization.
Since the start of Project Sunder, a total of 141 search warrants were executed in multiple jurisdictions, including Toronto, Peel, York, Halton and Durham regions.
Arrests and search warrants were also executed in Orillia, Barrie, Gravenhurst, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay, Kingston, Ottawa, Napanee and Thunder Bay.
Seized during the extensive operation were 31 firearms, including four over-capacity magazines, seven kilos of cocaine, two kilos of fentanyl and crystal meth along with heroin, oxycodone, percocets and MDMA and over $300,000 in Canadian currency.
The firearms, police are alleging, were used in shootings.
“Many were held by alleged drug dealers who had armed themselves for the purpose of establishing and maintaining control over the lucrative drug trade and in an ongoing battle for territory,” said Demkiw. “We are confident that, with the assistance of our partner agencies, Project Sunder has significantly disrupted the criminal operations and the hierarchy of the Eglinton West Crips Gang.”
Once the project is complete, it’s anticipated that the 114 people charged will face about 800 charges.
The Ontario Provincial Police Orillia, Gravenhurst, North Bay and Napanee detachments, York, Peel, Durham, Barrie, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Kingston, Ottawa and Thunder Bay police services played an active role in Project Sunder.
OPP Chief Supt. Paul Mackey said the provincial impact of the investigation is significant.
“Urban-based organized crime such as the street gang investigated in this project are increasing in sophistication,” he said. “The success of this province-wide investigation is a testament to how effectively police work together. This particular investigation clearly demonstrates how GTA-based street gangs have influence across Ontario. These criminal networks are opportunistic and prey on the most vulnerable. We recognize that their activities from firearms trafficking to drug trafficking have serious impact on community safety.”
Shirley Hilton, the Waterloo Regional Police Deputy Chief, said collaboration and sharing of intelligence between agencies is absolutely essential in combatting the challenges and complexities that gang and gun violence impose on communities.
“These partnerships are the foundation in keeping our communities and citizens safe,” she added.
Deputy Chief Brian Bigras, of York Regional Police Service, agreed that policing agencies collective efforts are key to community safety and well-being.
“I also want to thank Toronto Police Service for identifying, prioritizing and leading Project Sunder,” he said. “It’s always a pleasure working in partnership with Toronto Police Service and this is just one more positive example of their professionalism and commitment to public safety.
“…The message for criminal groups is clear. If you choose to commit crimes, we, the Police and the community, will take the necessary action to ensure you are held to criminal account.”
Peel Regional Police Service Deputy Chief Nick Milinovich thanked Toronto Police for its leadership and said the outcomes of the investigation are an impressive reflection of the value of collaboration.
Demkiw acknowledged the outstanding work of the Integrated Gun & Gang Task Force – Major Projects Section investigators along with partner agencies.
“Each of these services contributed significantly with respect to personnel and resources,” he pointed out. “I thank them for their commitment to this operation and its success.”