New arrest made in investigation that saw raids; Blair still mum on evidence
Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Thursday, June 20, 2013 8:41PM EDT
Toronto police have announced another arrest as part of Project Traveller, a wide-reaching investigation into gun and drug activity that saw dozens of people arrested across the province in a series of raids carried out June 13.
The arrest brings to 45 the total number of people arrested as part of the investigation so far.
Most of the arrests were made during the June 13 raids, which targeted a group known as the Dixon City Bloods. Officers from a number of different police forces made arrests across the province. But most of the police activity focused on an apartment complex on Dixon Road.
Police allege the group’s activities include drug trafficking in the GTA, Windsor and Alberta, weapons smuggling and crimes of serious violence.
More than 220 charges have been laid so far in the ongoing investigation which police say began in June of 2012. Police have also seized half a million dollars in cash and some $3 million in illegal drugs.
On June 17, police released a lengthy list detailing the names of people who have been arrested as part of the investigation and the charges against them.
Police announced Thursday that they also arrested Paul Smith-Bonnick, 21, of Barrie, on June 18.
He has been charged with unauthorized possession of a firearm, trafficking in restricted weapons, unauthorized possession of a firearm, and four counts of importing or exporting a restricted weapon knowing it is unauthorized.
He made a court appearance in Toronto June 18.
Blair reiterates he won’t speak about possible Ford connection
News of the arrest came just before Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair spoke to reporters and reiterated that he will not speak about the evidence collected as part of Project Traveller.
Since the raids on Dixon Road, speculation has swirled about whether any of the evidence collected might relate to the crack video scandal that has plagued Mayor Rob Ford since May 16.
One of the buildings that was raided is the same spot reported to be the location where an alleged video of Ford was stored.
Two Toronto Star reporters have said they were shown a video at that address that appeared to show the mayor smoking from a glass pipe.
CP24 has not seen the alleged video and its authenticity has not been verified.
Ford has denied the video exists.
“I am not going to jeopardize an important prosecution to satisfy your curiosity,” Blair told reporters at police headquarters following a Toronto Police Services Board meeting Thursday. “The fact is the law is quite explicit on how that information is to be gathered and how it’s to be disclosed and we’re following the law.”
Blair said despite media reports citing legal experts who feel he could be saying more about the investigation, he has received legal opinion of his own to the contrary.
“I would question the expertise of those who are referred to as the experts. It took about a week to find them,” Blair said. “We’ve been consulting very broadly with people who actually work in this law and are recognized throughout the province as true experts.”
Following the raids, a police source told CTV News that police were investigating the alleged video of the mayor after learning about it through wiretaps conducted for the Project Traveller investigation.
But Blair has refused to say whether police have obtained a video of the mayor or collected cellphone evidence as part of the investigation.
He has repeatedly stated that he will not disclose whether or not any of the evidence relates to the mayor because discussing the evidence could jeopardize the integrity of the investigation.
“We’ve now put all of our evidence before the courts,” Blair told reporters. “Any enquiries now about that evidence should rightfully be directed to the crown attorney.”
Blair also said he’s not familiar with every piece of evidence gathered in the investigation and could not confirm or deny whether any videos were collected.
He also said he couldn’t recall when he last spoke to the mayor.
Eight people wanted in connection with the Project Traveller investigation are still outstanding, police say.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).
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