Police say raids carried out in Toronto and Windsor on Thursday are connected to the murder of a man associated with an alleged video of Mayor Rob Ford smoking drugs.
A related photo shows Ford with his arm around Anthony Smith, 21, who was shot dead outside a downtown nightclub in March.
Police haven’t said if Ford was in any way part of their year-long investigation but they did say that one of the 28 suspects arrested in Thursday’s raids faces a previous murder charge in Smith’s death.
“From our perspective, last year there was a large amount of violence that was occurring in the northwest part of the city here,” Supt. Jim Ramer said.
“And as a result … we received some information about the activities of some members that were in a gang … so there was a great deal of intelligence work to investigate some of that information that came our way.”
Thursday’s raids saw 19 people arrested in Toronto and nine in Windsor, in a sweep that targeted gang activity spanning from Toronto to Edmonton and across the Canada-U.S. border.
The investigation, which involved police from multiple jurisdictions including Peel, York, Halton, Durham, the RCMP and Ontario Provincial Police, centred around the alleged activities of a Toronto gang known as the Dixon City Bloods and the Dixon Goonies. The members were believed to be concentrated around an apartment complex at 320 Dixon Rd. in Etobicoke.
At a news conference on Friday, Toronto police said they were happy with the results of the operation, dubbed Project Traveller, and displayed a slew of guns they had seized.
The investigation has resulted in 43 arrests to date, and the suspects face some 300 charges including murder, attempted murder, robberies, and the possession and trafficking of drugs and firearms, police say.
During Thursday’s raids, police said they seized 40 firearms, more than $3 million in drugs and $572,000 in cash.
The gang has been “significantly downgraded,” they added.
The investigation began in June 2012 and the alleged crimes date back to 2006.
Meanwhile, the Dixon Road apartment complex is where two Toronto Star reporters claim they saw a video of what appears to be Mayor Rob Ford smoking drugs, which drug dealers were shopping around in early May.
Blair wouldn’t comment on a possible connection to Ford, saying all evidence would come out in court.
CityNews has not seen the alleged video of Ford and cannot verify it exists..
With files from The Canadian Press