$33M worth of stolen vehicles recovered by Peel police as part of Project Odyssey

Peel Regional Police officers say 369 vehicles worth $33.2 million have been recovered and hundreds of charges have been laid as part of an operation dubbed Project Odyssey.

“This is a highly orchestrated criminal operation,” Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah said during a news conference Monday morning.

“This has been Peel Regional Police’s most significant auto theft investigation to date.”

Commercial auto bureau Det. Greg O’Connor said the investigation started in October after officers received a tip about stolen vehicles in the shipping area of Highway 50 and Fogal Road, north of Highway 7, in Brampton. In December, he said they learned a transport truck was loaded with stolen vehicles in Mississauga.

As the investigation continued, O’Connor said a local trucking company facilitated shipping the stolen vehicles. He said a family was responsible for “facilitating and loading” the vehicles.

“Based on the evidence, we believe the trucking company owners, workers and operators were fully aware and complicit in the shipping of these stolen vehicles,” O’Connor said.

He said officers found several loading locations in Peel Region. Officers said investigators determined the stolen vehicles were destined for the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Deputy Chief Nick Milinovich said officers recovered more than 3,000 stolen vehicles in 2023.

“Organized criminal networks have recognized that stealing cars [is] low risk and high reward. In Peel, we have also recognized that and we are doing more in that space to make it higher risk and lower reward,” he said.

“Our community and our police service will not tolerate it and to be quite honest we’re tired of it.”

Officers said 114 of the 369 vehicles were found at the Port of Montreal and were transported by rail from intermodal terminals in the Greater Toronto Area or by transport trucks along Highway 401. The rest of the vehicles were found in Peel Region.

O’Connor said three transport trucks and two bobcats were also seized, adding it’s believed those were used to move the vehicles.

In total, 16 people were arrested and investigators have arrest warrants for 10 others. The 16 suspects arrested collectively face charges for 322 Criminal Code of Canada offences.

The co-accused are between the ages of 16 and 57 and live in Peel Region, Toronto, and Quebec.

Officials said 14 of the 26 suspects facing charges were out on bail or another type of release from the courts after being previously charged in other auto theft-related incidents. Milinovich said of those arrested as part of Project Odyssey, he said all were released.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown called the investigation a “wake-up call” for stricter judicial conditions and sentencing. He also said intermodal hubs and the Port of Montreal need to be “part of the solution” since the vehicles are being sold internationally.

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