A 15-month long investigation in partnership with Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and York Regional Police (YRP) has led to 22 arrests and almost $10 million worth of drugs seized.
Dubbed Project SOUTHAM, the investigation focused on organized crime in the GTA and drug trafficking, specifically cocaine.
“This investigation showed that even through COVID, organized crime was still able to import and export controlled substances in and out of Canada,” OPP Detective Inspector Bill Walker said.
On July 7, investigators executed 44 search warrants throughout the GTA, which included locations in Thornhill and Vaughan as well as at a business in Vaughan.
Walker said York Regional Police were equal partners in the investigation, supplying officers and resources to the project.
“We enjoy a very good working relationship with all our law enforcement partners and we’re constantly sharing intelligence,” Walker said. “So it was only natural to partner with [York Regional Police]."
At a press conference announcing the results of Project SOUTHAM, YRP Deputy Brian Bigras said partnerships like these ones are key.
“The cooperation of law enforcement in Canada and the United States in this investigation exemplifies the value of collaboration,” he said, “Project SOUTHAM should stand as a message to all organized crime groups. You will be held accountable regardless of your location or crime for jeopardizing the safety and wellbeing of our communities.”
As well as the OPP and YRP, the project involved Canadian Border Services Agency, RCMP, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and Halton Region, Toronto, and South Simcoe police services.
“Every single time law enforcement agencies cooperating and working in partnership can remove the presence of organized crime, it's a win for all of our communities,” Bigras said, adding that York Regional Police were pleased to be a part of this investigation.
According to OPP, in total Project SOUTHAM led to the seizure of the following:
- 92 kilograms of cocaine
- One kilogram of methamphetamine
- 249 kilograms of illicit cannabis, 100's of bags of illicit cannabis edibles & 56 grams hash
- 1.3 kilograms of psilocybin
- 21 litres of gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB)
- 255 grams of ketamine
- 255 grams of MDMA
- 980 oxycodone pills
- One kilogram of a cutting agent
- A 9mm handgun
- One silver bar, approximate value of $2,600
- $372,020 in Canadian currency
- $7,620 in US currency
- A cryptocurrency hardware wallet containing cryptocurrency
- Seven vehicles as offence-related property