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Police bust illegal firearm manufacturing ring in the GTA; 23 arrested

Last Updated Dec 11, 2018 at 4:45 pm EDT

Images of firearms and drugs seized during Project Renner, Dec. 11, 2018. Image Credit: TWITTER/OPP

Twenty-three people have been arrested after an eight-month OPP joint investigation into illegal firearms, drug trafficking and the proceeds of crime in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area of southern Ontario.

“Project Renner” began last year when police began to notice a pattern with guns being seized in the GTA.

Four hundred officers from across the GTA took part in raids last week after 39 search warrants were issued across the GTA.

The OPP said 14 handguns, six long guns, an assault rifle, four silencers, grenades, body armour and a stun gun — along with a large amount of drugs and money, four cars and even a house — were seized during the raids.

Calling it a “unique investigation,” police said they were able to trace the weapons back to manufacturers believed to be responsible for making 120 guns that ended up on GTA streets.

“There‚Äôs no other reason to own these firearms other than for criminality,” OPP Supt. Bryan MacKillop explained at a press conference on Tuesday.

Police believe these guns, which were built domestically with unregulated parts, have been on the streets of Toronto since as far back as 2016.

“This group manufactured these illegal guns for mass distribution to multiple criminal cells in Ontario,” MacKillop said.

Police laid a total of 156 offences — including organized crime related charges — following the raid.

Two main suspects have been identified as 47-year-old Bruce McKinnon, of Rockwood, and 29-year-old Jon Rasmussen, of Smithville. Police believe the two men are responsible for making and trafficking in excess of 120 handguns.

“We are committed to relentlessly pursue those who harm and victimize others,” MacKillop said, adding that similar, ongoing investigations are taking place across the province.