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18 arrested in massive vehicle theft ring connected to the Black Axe

Last Updated Dec 11, 2015 at 12:25 pm EDT

Toronto police acting deputy Jim Ramer discusses Project CBG, Dec. 11, 2015. 680 NEWS/Momin Qureshi

Toronto police say they’ve broken up a large vehicle theft ring that sent high-end cars from the GTA all the way to Nigeria and Ghana.

The joint task force operation, dubbed Project CBG, was led by Toronto police and involved 175 police officers and more than 35 search warrants simultaneously executed in the GTA.

Eighteen people were arrested after roughly 500 cars were stolen from driveways across the city.

Police said the theft ring is connected to the Black Axe, a group reportedly linked to decades of murders and rapes in Nigeria.

“There is absolutely no doubt that organized crime enterprises, such as the Black Axe, use the proceeds of these types of property crimes to further fund and grow their illegal enterprises,” Acting Deputy Jim Ramer explained.

Police services from across the GTA were involved, along with the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency, The Insurance Bureau of Canada and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

A total of 640 charges were laid.

“We are confident that, as the result of Project CBG, this particular crime ring has been significantly degraded,” said Ramer.

Police continue to search for six more people believed to be connected to the auto theft ring.