80 people arrested in months-long street gang investigation

More than 30 people were arrested in raids across the Greater Toronto Area Thursday morning that targeted a street gang, Toronto police say.

Police arrested 37 people in the early morning hours as they executed numerous search warrants across the GTA, Chief Mark Saunders said at a news conference on Thursday.

The raids were the result of an eight-month investigation into an organization called the Chester Le gang, Saunders said. Another 43 people had previously been arrested as part of the investigation, according to Chief Saunders.

“The gang was involved in illegal activities, which directly threatened local communities,” Saunders told reporters at police headquarters.

Police recovered “significant” quantities of drugs during the raids, Saunders said. He also alleged the group was responsible for distributing fentanyl throughout Toronto.

“The quality of life that it reduces in any community is tremendously egregious,” he added, citing the fact that fentanyl is deemed to be exponentially more lethal than heroin.

“The fact that we’ve got an entity that is distributing that drug is a concern, and I’m grateful for the work that the men and women from guns and gangs implemented.”

A total of 23 firearms had been confiscated, with 10 seized by investigators on Thursday morning, Saunders said.

“We know over 90 per cent of the gun activity in the city is somehow connected to street gangs,” he continued.

“Our investigators are confident that this project has effectively disrupted and dealt a significant blow to the hierarchy and the operations of this gang,” the chief said, adding that officers would be making more arrests throughout the day.

The Chester Le gang had roots in the area surrounding Victoria Park and Finch avenues, but their influence and activities had extended throughout the GTA and the rest of Canada, Saunders said.

He could not provide further details since investigation is ongoing, but said he expects to provide more information at another news conference scheduled for Friday morning.

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