Province-wide gang investigation shows ‘strong connection’ between Thunder Bay and GTA

·3 min read

THUNDER BAY - A province-wide investigation led by Toronto police which dismantled a violent street gang and targeted more than 100 individuals believed to be responsible for serious violent crimes shows a direct link between the GTA and Thunder Bay, says the city’s chief of police.

At Tuesday’s police services board meeting, members of the board discussed the Thunder Bay Police Service’s involvement in a province-wide gun, gang, drug and human trafficking investigation known as Project Sunder led by Toronto police.

More than 100 individuals were targeted and are alleged to be responsible for various serious crimes such as murder, attempt murder, firearms, drug trafficking, human trafficking in areas from Toronto to Thunder Bay, according to a news release issued by Toronto Police on Oct. 29.

The news release states several police services across the province were involved including OPP, Waterloo, York, Peel, Durham Region and Thunder Bay Police Service.

Toronto Police Deputy Chief Myron Demkiw said in the release the investigation began locally into a violent street gang known as the Eglinton West Crips and then expanded into a multi-jurisdictional project involving arrests in15 different cities.

Once the project is complete, more than 114 people will face approximately 800 charges including offences related to participating in criminal organizations, firearms offences including shootings, drug trafficking and possession, according to the news release.

Chief of Police Sylvie Hauth said the project highlights the work of the Thunder Bay Police Service in the GTA.

“Sunder was a very big project that netted many arrests and many criminal charges and we are proud partners,” Hauth said on Tuesday, Nov. 17. “Warrants were done simultaneously here in town which contributed to the overall success of the project so I think it really highlights the fact there is a strong connection.”

Hauth explained during Tuesday’s meeting the police service’s involvement in this project could be used as a "bargaining tool" in terms of requesting funding from the ministry when it comes to guns and gang activity in Thunder Bay.

“It’s something we continue to say here within our community that we are not immune to guns and gangs and we do have a lot of people that are coming from the GTA to Thunder Bay to sell drugs,” she said. “This project really highlights and showcases that not only do we need to continue working with our community partners but also other agencies in the GTA.”

Hauth also said it also highlights Thunder Bay needs the same resources being provided to bigger cities in terms of guns and gangs funding.

“It really shines the light not only with us just us saying 'hey we are here' but Toronto really acknowledging our role and our contribution to this really big project," Hauth said.

The police service’s board approved the addition of six officers to the police service's guns and gangs unit as part of the 2020 budget. So far, three out of the six positions have been filled, according to Hauth.

“This again is something that is coming internally from our own budget so I think it is important to advocate through the board to the ministry so we can access to more funding as some bigger (police) services have received,” Hauth said.

Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source