Toronto police arrest four men, seize almost 400 kgs of illicit drugs in Project Cerro
Published Wednesday, February 1, 2023 10:50AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 1, 2023 11:59AM EST
Toronto police have arrested four men and seized almost 400 kilograms of narcotics that they say were likely imported from Mexico.
Police say that an investigation, dubbed Project Cerro, arose out of a separate probe which resulted in the largest single-day drug seizure in the history of the force back in November.
Project Cerro, which began last October, has resulted in the seizure of almost 390 kilograms of drugs - 364 kilos of crystal methamphetamine, 20 kilos of cocaine, and 3.8 kilos of fentanyl - with a total estimated street value of $32 million.
Police said four loaded Glock handguns were also seized in the investigation, along with seven motor vehicles, and over $500,000 in Canadian currency.
Toronto police’s drug squad executed 15 search warrants on Jan. 17 as part of their investigation.
Of the seven raided residences, which police described as "stash houses," all were in Toronto. Investigators said furniture used to “conceal contraband” was located at two of those homes.
“The ability to manufacture crystal methamphetamine at a high level, at a pure level, these are coming from Mexico,” Supt. Steven Watts, of Organized Crime Enforcement, said of the seized drugs during a press conference on Wednesday morning.
“The only people that would probably have the ability to supply this amount would have to be cartel based and I will leave it at that.”
Watts went on to say that organized crime groups “continue to seize on the opportunity to profit from the harm caused to the community and caused significant public safety and public health concerns.”
“This is occurring in all of our neighborhoods in Toronto, the GTA and all the smaller towns and municipalities in Ontario property through the importation and distribution of illicit substances, sometimes laced with toxic opioids. The drugs distributed by these organized criminal groups have fueled and continued to fuel gun violence and associated crime and disorder in our communities throughout the country,” he said, noting one of the best ways to reduce violence on our streets is to disrupt those who import and distribute these controlled substances, especially across the border.
Deputy Chief Pauline Gray, of Specialized Operations, called today’s news the “outcome of yet another successful drug seizure investigation.”
“The Toronto Police Service will continue to dedicate the resources necessary to keep dangerous drugs and people off the streets,” she said, thanking all who participated in this investigation.
“Make no mistake, investigations like these and the seizures and arrests that follow, save lives and prevent further violence in our city.” This news comes almost four months after Toronto police revealed the results of their largest single-day drug seizure.
Back in November 2022, police seized 520 kilos of crystal methamphetamine and 151 kilos of cocaine with an estimated street value of almost $60 million during an investigation called Project Zafiro.
Toronto residents Paul Lelutiu, 35, Troy Anthony Robinson, 40, Manasinh Jittavong, 39, and Soheil Baharloo, 34, are each facing a slew of drug- and firearms-related charges in connection with the latest investigation. The are all set to appear in court in the coming weeks.