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OPP conduct largest seizure of handguns and assault-style rifles in province's history

OPP executed 17 search warrants at locations in the GTA and Niagara Region in February 13 and seized 106 illegal firearms, some of which were loaded
Province’s largest seizure of handguns and assault-style rifles results in 16 arrests, 279 charges and one wanted person

The OPP-led Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit (PWEU) has teamed up with US Homeland Security Investigations to seize 274 illegal firearms, including 168 in the US and 106 in Ontario.

This is the largest seizure of handguns and assault-style rifles in the province's history say police.

Early last year an investigation called Project SAXOM was started into two people who were trafficking firearms in the Greater Toronto Area. At the same time, Project DUAL APPROACH commenced in the US.

As a result of Project DUAL APPROACH, 168 illegal firearms were intercepted before they could be smuggled into Ontario. One dual citizen of Canada and the US has been arrested and will be prosecuted in the US.

Police used traditional investigative techniques, including covert operations, to infiltrate a group of individuals seeking to traffic firearms in the Greater Toronto Area. As the investigation progressed, additional suspects belonging to five distinct criminal networks were identified. In addition to trafficking firearms, police also discovered that several of the accused were also trafficking illicit drugs.

In Ontario, police executed 17 search warrants at locations in the GTA and Niagara Region on February 13 and 14 and seized 106 illegal firearms, some of which were loaded.

Seized items include:

  • 88 illegal handguns including restricted and prohibited handguns and AK-47-style and AR-15-style prohibited pistols/handguns. This includes two restricted handguns (40 calibre) that had been converted to fully automatic firearms.
  • 18 long guns. This includes non-restricted, restricted, and prohibited rifles and one shotgun.
  • 118 prohibited devices. This includes one silencer, one conducted energy weapon, 20 brass knuckles, 22 prohibited knives and 74 prohibited firearm magazines. One of the prohibited firearm magazines is a "drum magazine" (for a handgun that holds 50 rounds of .40cal ammunition), and other over-capacity magazines that can hold between 11 and 31 rounds of ammunition.
  • 1,700 rounds of ammunition.
  • 23 kilograms of methamphetamine.
  • More than 1 kilogram of high-potency Fentanyl, equivalent to 60,000 to 70,000 street-level doses.
  • 688 Fentanyl pills.
  • 1.3 kilograms of cocaine.
  • 197 grams of heroin.
  • 877 opioid pills.
  • 280 grams of psilocybin.
  • 432 grams of an unknown substance and 20 unknown prescription pills.
  • $63,332 in Canadian cash
  • $4,689 in US cash

The potential street value of the illicit drugs and illegal firearms seized in Ontario is approximately $3.25 million say police.

This investigation resulted in 16 arrests in Ontario and 279 charges under the Criminal Code (CC) and Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Six of the accused are subject to lifetime firearms prohibition bans. One accused was on full parole. Another was on Statutory Release.

"Illegal firearms pose a serious risk to public safety. They are often used by organized crime groups, including street gangs, to broaden and secure drug trafficking networks," says OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique in a news release. "They are also used in violent crimes including robberies, carjacking, intimidation, extortion and homicide."