Police in Ontario and Quebec have charged 18 people in connection with a large scale drugs and guns investigation that involved the seizure of high-powered weapons and thousands of pills containing the deadly opioid fentanyl.
Ontario Provincial Police Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum said during a press conference in Vaughan, Ont. on Thursday that the probe, dubbed Project Silkstone, began 18 months ago and targeted criminals who were trafficking drugs from Canada into the United States.
“This was a lengthy, high level, organized crime bureau investigation targeting multiple criminal groups,” Barnum said. “They were involved in trafficking of illegal drugs and guns along the Highway 401 corridor between the Greater Toronto Area, through the Belleville/Bay of Quinte Region and Montreal.”
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Police said they determined large amounts of fentanyl were being produced in Montreal and destined for Connecticut as well as Ontario.
“When you get to fairly high level groups, they’ll go anywhere to make a profit. In this case, they had a connection in the United States. They had an avenue there to sell the fentanyl,” Barnum explained.
Investigators said closed to $3 million worth of drugs were seized including 11,500 fentanyl pills, eight kilograms of cocaine, 7,241 marijuana plants and cases of vaporizers containing THC – known as “JuJu Joints.”
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Authorities also managed to dismantle a false identity lab and seized 300 blank cards, counterfeit Ontario Trillium marks, passport photos and cutting tools to manufacture fake IDs.
Three pistols and 20 long guns were also confiscated, including $69,000 in Canadian currency and $50,000 worth of casino chips.
Police said the investigation comprised of multiple police forces working together including the RCMP, the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) and the Canada Border Services Agency.
“The seizures that we’ve made here today and continue to make are exactly what we’ve hoped for,” Barnum said. “But what helps us is that during the course of these investigations, we learn all kinds of intimate details and intelligence and things of that sort of nature.”
The 18 arrested face a total of 81 offences under the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drug and Substances Act.
Ontario police said the investigation is ongoing and more details of the operation is expected to be released in the coming weeks.
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