Halton Police conclude Project Bayou, targeting auto theft trafficking

The Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) 2 District Criminal Investigations Bureau - Street Crime Unit have concluded a four-month investigation dubbed Project Bayou.

The investigation began in January 2024 and focused on suspicious activities linked to auto theft and overnight residential break-ins.

Investigators identified an organized crew of thieves targeting high-end vehicles through residential break-ins and technology-based auto theft, with stolen vehicles being re-pinned and sold for significant profits. Additionally, it became clear that these individuals were involved in large-scale drug trafficking.

On March 13, 2024, and April 24, 2024, with assistance from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Peel Regional Police Service, and Toronto Police Service, multiple search warrants under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) and Criminal Code were executed in Oakville and Toronto. These warrants targeted residences, storage lockers, and connected vehicles.

The searches resulted in the seizure of a significant amount of drugs and stolen property, including:

  • 7.8 kg of cocaine, including six intact 1 kg bricks

  • 37 pounds of cannabis

  • Numerous cannabis edibles and vapes

  • 36 mason jars containing liquid cannabis resin

  • 772 oxycodone pills

  • 1229 LSD tabs

  • 1248 grams of codeine

  • 375 grams of psilocybin

  • 755.7 grams of hash

  • 142 clonazepam pills

  • $1,123,217 in Canadian currency

  • Money counters, scales, packaging materials, and other drug trafficking paraphernalia

  • Three stolen vehicles (BMW M4, Grand Cherokee, BMW X7)

  • A stolen motorcycle and box trailer

  • Stolen license plates from numerous high-end vehicle thefts

  • Reprogramming technology, fraudulent VIN plates, and 128 key fobs

  • A semi-automatic .22 rifle with 159 rounds of ammunition and a 12-gauge shotgun with 33 rounds of ammunition

  • A loaded Glock 43X 9mm handgun with 46 rounds of ammunition

As a result of the investigation, several individuals have been charged:

Vincent Tassone (24), of Oakville:

  • Possession for Trafficking (Cocaine) (2 counts)

  • Possession of Property Obtained by Crime over $5000 (4 counts)

  • Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm

  • Knowledge of Unauthorized Possession of a Firearm

  • Careless Use or Storage of a Firearm

  • Possession of a Weapon for a Dangerous Purpose

  • Possession of a Restricted Firearm with Ammunition

  • Breach of Firearms Regulations

  • Possession of Cannabis for the Purpose of Distribution

  • Possession of Automobile Master Key

  • Possession of Break-In Instruments

  • Trafficking in Property Obtained by Crime (2 counts)

  • Possession of Property Obtained by Crime under $5000

  • Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle

Tassone was held in custody pending a bail hearing.

Simon Cianciolo (23), of Oakville:

  • Possession of Cannabis for Distribution

  • Possession for Trafficking (Cocaine)

  • Possession for Trafficking (Clonazepam)

  • Possession for Trafficking (Oxycodone)

  • Possession for Trafficking (LSD)

  • Possession for Trafficking (Psilocybin)

  • Possession of Property Obtained by Crime over $5000 (Currency)

  • Possession of Counterfeit Mark

  • Possession of Property Obtained by Crime over $5000

Cianciolo was held in custody pending a bail hearing.

Shon Wickes (24), of Caledon:

  • Possession of Cannabis for Distribution

  • Possession for Trafficking (Cocaine)

  • Possession for Trafficking (Clonazepam)

  • Possession for Trafficking (Oxycodone)

  • Possession for Trafficking (LSD)

  • Possession for Trafficking (Psilocybin)

  • Possession of Property Obtained by Crime over $5000 (Currency)

  • Possession of Counterfeit Mark

Wickes was held in custody pending a bail hearing.

Omar Darkhabani (29), of Oakville:

  • Possession of Cannabis for Distribution

  • Possession of Property Obtained by Crime Under $5000

Darkhabani was released on an undertaking with a future court date.

In the weeks following the execution of the warrants, police seized 23 re-pinned vehicles worth over $2 million.

Superintendent Dave Costantini stated, "We are all keenly aware of the rise of auto theft occurrences in our region and the surrounding GTA. These vehicles are not only stolen for profit but they are also used in the commission of other serious violent crimes such as armed robberies, home invasions, serious assaults, shootings, and homicides. We are also aware that organized crime is behind the trafficking of illicit substances and has a direct correlation to the rise in drug poisonings resulting in fatalities."

"We are committed to continue collaborating with our law enforcement partners to disrupt and dismantle organized crime groups. Through Project Bayou, we've dealt a critical blow to organized crime in Halton, significantly disrupting not only drug trafficking but also an extensive ring of vehicle thefts. The safety and security of all will always be our priority, as will holding accountable those who mistakenly believe that they are above the law. I commend the dedicated officers and our partner agencies whose tireless work made these results possible."

Muhammad Aamir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Milton Reporter, Milton Reporter