Cops flip ‘Switch’ and turn lights out on major GTA drug ring
TORONTO — A joint police operation, Project Switch, has thwarted a major summer snowstorm from hitting the streets of the GTA.
Acting Insp. Steve Watts, of Toronto Police Drug Enforcement Squad, stood in front of 52 kilograms of packaged cocaine, 7.4 kilograms of heroin along with 3 kilograms of MDMA, hash oil and caffeine cutting agent chemicals — with a combined estimated street value of $8 to $11 million — destined for sale throughout Toronto and the surrounding area.
Six suspects have been arrested and one is still outstanding in what police call a “silo” operation similar to a pyramid scheme of major drug trafficking network.
In essence, if one group of traffickers or distributors is caught cops don’t know who the others are in the network — similar to the Mexican cartel system where about 99% of the world’s cocaine traffic originates.
When asked if the people arrested were street-level, mid-level or high-level dealers, Watts said, “I would suggest they are “at the very least mid- to high-level.”
Police agencies from York, Peel, OPP, Toronto and the RCMP, as well as Canada Border Services, helped wrap up the investigation that started in February 2017.
Watts alleged the accused used “trap” vehicles to transport the dope across unspecified border crossings from the United States and throughout the GTA — using transport trucks and vehicles with false or hidden compartments to hide the drugs and, in one case, a 12-gauge shotgun.
The crux of the takedown, Watts said, is that “drugs are a commodity” and “it’s about money. So it is money over everything.”
When asked where the drugs would have been sold Watts surmised it would have been anywhere from Bay St. to the clubs to the “streets,” but ultimately it would have depended on amounts and different factors.
“It’s safe to say when you have firearms and large amounts of controlled substances in combination that is a very dangerous combination,” said Watts.
“The first phase of it (occurred) was June 25,” said Watts, who explained one of the vehicles was taken down July 17.
The firearms — handguns, shotguns, assault-style scoped rifles — were all registered legally to one of the individuals arrested in the takedown.
A large box beside the packaged heroin contained a machine to press and make ammunition.
Nine vehicles, a home valued at $1.3 million and $287,000 in cash were also confiscated as cops executed 11 search warrants in Toronto, Holland Landing, Mississauga, Concord and Woodbridge.
Lorenzo Lam, 25, David Littledale, 35, Trung Duc Pham, 31, Quynh Vu, 33, Duc Hoang, 34, and Mylee Kavalak, 33, face numerous drug and firearms charges.
Jorvannie Peart, 34, is still wanted in connection with the investigation.