Pubdate: Wed, 13 Jun 2007
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 The Toronto Star
Author: Betsy Powell, Tamara Cherry; Staff Reporters
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Detainees Connected to Notorious Street Gang, Drugs and Weapons

Police across the GTA and as far away as Barrie, Belleville and
Kingston carried out more than 130 pre-dawn search warrants today,
rounding up 60 people alleged to be involved with the Driftwood Crips
and seizing a vast amount of drugs and weapons.

Project Kryptic, which has been in the works for more than 11 months,
was carried out with "surgical precision" mostly in the Jane and Finch
area, but also in neighbourhoods across Toronto, Barrie, and Peel,
York, Durham and Niagara regions, Toronto police chief William Blair
told reporters this morning.

"Today we have one less street gang terrorizing neighbourhoods in the
city of Toronto," Blair said. "The individuals that we allege to be
members of that gang are now in custody and the neighbourhood is safe
from their criminal enterprises."

Nearly 700 officers seized dozens of firearms, ammunition and other
weapons, which have "forced many of our citizens to silence," as well
as over 30 kilograms of cocaine, 9 kilograms of hash oil and "several
pounds" of marijuana, Blair said.

The street value of the drugs is "well in excess of $1 million," Blair

"The trafficking of illicit drugs is the primary source of income for
this criminal enterprise and the seizure of these drugs and the arrest
of those responsible for the importation and trafficking of them, we
hope will deal a significant blow to the source of misery in so many
of our most vulnerable neighbourhoods."

Each of the people arrested this morning is alleged to have some
association with the Driftwood Crips, based out of the Jane and Finch

While there are other gangs competing for drug turf in the area, the
Crips "represent the greatest threat, the greatest danger to our
neighbourhoods," Blair said. "We believe they are associated to many
violent crimes that have taken place in that neighbourhood."

Among those arrested were six employees at Pearson International
Airport that worked in the "cargo area and ramp system," said RCMP
Supt. Robert Davis.

"There has been and continues to be a flow of contraband through the
airport, not unlike any other airport anywhere else in the world,"
Davis said. "The individuals that we are alleging are involved in this
will and should make a significant dent in the criminal activity there."

The RCMP's airport squad has been investigating the individuals for 18
months and teamed up with Toronto police after realizing alleged
connections with the Driftwood Crips.

"They're more associated to them, as opposed to direct members," Davis

"We're talking about six employees who happened to work at the
airport, who were facilitating, assisting, helping the Crips to commit
criminal offences while they were working. They were taking advantage
of their employment at the airport to compromise security there."

There were 82 search warrants executed at homes throughout the GTA and
an additional 45 carried out on vehicles associated with the alleged
gang members, Blair said, adding, "Our work is not concluded."

"The dismantling of this criminal organization and the removal of many
dangerous offenders from our community will make a difference but I
must tell you our work is not done. It will not be done unless and
until all of the violence that is inflicted upon our most vulnerable
neighbourhoods and our youth comes to an end."

There will be an increased police presence in the area for coming
weeks because of "other predators waiting in the wings to step in and
try to take advantage of what's going on in there," Blair said.

The raids followed in the footsteps of similar police operations
targeted at dismantling Toronto gangs, such as Project Impact in
Malvern, Project Pathfinder, which targeted the Galloway Boys gang,
Project Flicker, targeting the Ardwick Blood Crew and Project XXX last
year, which targeted the Jamestown Crew.

"I think the type of activities that this group has been involved in
with drug trafficking, the use of weapons, the trafficking of weapons,
is very similar and I believe the level of violence, the level of
intimidation and the level of misery brought to the community in which
they've been operation is very similar to that which we saw in
Jamestown last year," Blair said.

This project, which involved "tens and even hundreds of thousands of
hours of evidence gathering," is the first undertaken from the new
integrated Guns and Gangs provincial operations centre.

"Most of these organized criminal gangs begin as neighbourhood-based
gangs, but their criminal enterprise and their criminal tentacles
extend, as we've seen, well beyond the neighbourhoods in which they
originate," said Blair. "They become involved in drug trafficking and
the trafficking of firearms and violent criminal activity well outside
their neighbourhood."

The service's 31 Division on Norfinch Dr. was a hub of activity, with
cruisers arriving with young men crouching in the back seats.

Residents in a low-rise townhouse complex on Driftwood Court reported
hearing a series of bangs, lights flashing and dogs barking around 5

"I was in a deep sleep and jumped out of my bed," said one woman. A
few hours earlier, she says she heard what she believes were gunshots,
which made the police presence even more welcome.

Nearby, a mother of three puffed on a cigarette, watching police place
a handcuffed mother and daughter into a cruiser on Driftwood Court.
She shook her head.

"Everything starts at the home," she said. "These kids need love and
guidance and to be taught right from wrong or else they end up in
cuffs or dead." She was also grateful to see the police - "they need
to clean this place up" - but asked that her name not be used in case
"I get shot."

The latest sweep comes at a time of heightened public and political
pressure in the wake of recent violence, including the shooting death
last month of 15-year-old Jordan Manners in a school not far where
some of the raids took place.

This week, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced a review into the causes
of gun violence. 
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