More than two dozen people have been charged after a 13-month investigation into the trafficking of controlled substances and firearms in southern Ontario, the Ontario Provincial Police said Thursday.
Three members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club and three members of the Red Devils motorcycle club were among those arrested in the investigation, dubbed Project Coyote, the OPP said, noting that 26 people were facing charges.
“Two criminal groups were identified as operating a drug trafficking network in the Belleville-Quinte West area,” said OPP Chief Supt. Paul Mackey, adding those groups were a Greater Toronto Area street gang and members of the motorcycle clubs.
The joint operation began in January 2022 and included the Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau, the Provincial Operations Intelligence Bureau, the Toronto Police Service and the Belleville Police Service.
“A significant amount of illegal drugs — including more than a kilogram of fentanyl, six kilos of methamphetamine and 16 kilos of cocaine — were seized, as well as more than $370,000 in Canadian currency stemming from the proceeds of crime,” said Mackey.
He said police also seized more than a dozen firearms, including stolen and 3D-printed guns, as well as live ammunition, 10 vehicles, body armour and more than $150,000 worth of jewelry.
The OPP said hundreds of charges were laid in the investigation related to the trafficking of drugs and firearms, criminal organization, conspiracy and possession of property obtained by crime.
They say more charges are expected as the investigation continues.
Police say nine warrants were initially executed in the Greater Toronto Area on Jan. 18, 2023, resulting in the arrest of a dozen people, and more warrants were carried out across southern Ontario on Wednesday with 15 more people arrested.
“Our focus is now going to shift locally towards working with our social service providers to support those who have been victimized by these gangs,” said Chris Barry, deputy chief of the Belleville Police Service.
The OPP said the investigation was supported by federal and international partners including the Canada Border Services Agency and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2023.