Toronto police say that a new investigative unit tapped with addressing organized crime will formally begin operations this week with an initial focus on a rash of violent carjackings which have taken place across the city.
The Organized Crime Investigative Support Team will be made of investigators from different ranks across the Toronto Police Service, as well as civilian support staff.
The unit will focus on “city-wide major crime activity where the investigative scope exceeds the resources of local divisions or has links to organized crime,” according to police. It is being funded with an investment of $2.3 million that was reallocated during the service’s budget process earlier this year.
“We are reassigning officers to this team to enhance our specialized investigative capacity so we can adapt and address current increases in crime, including auto theft and carjackings. The latter of which can put residents in harm’s way when a weapon is used,” Chief James Ramer said in a news release
The launch of the new investigative unit comes in the wake of a series of carjackings in the city, including one targeting Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner outside an Etobicoke movie theatre last week.
There was also another carjacking in the city on Tuesday night.
This one took place in the Leaside Park Overlea Boulevard area and involved two suspects who were reportedly armed with firearms.
So far this year there have been 94 carjackings in Toronto compared to 102 in all of 2021.
Mayor John Tory has previously called the spike in carjackings a “plague” on the city and has said he is supportive of Ramer doing whatever is necessary to bring those responsible to justice.
“You got to fight back against this. These are organized criminals and they are people that are engaged in brazen behaviour that does put the safety of citizens at risk,” he told reporters last week.
Police have said that 39 arrests in relation to carjackings have been made so far this year, with most of those suspects linked to multiple occurrences.