Arrests in Surging Pharmacy Robberies

By Ron Fanfair

Ron Fanfair




Toronto Police have made 10 arrests in a string of armed robberies targeting pharmacies between December 2022 and February 2023.

The investigation involved 26 robberies in the 10-week period.

Of the 10 arrests, six were young people under the age of 18 and two were 14 years old. They face 60 charges.

Eight of the individuals arrested were before the courts for firearm, robbery and property-related offences and were out on bail.

At a press conference at police headquarters on February 15, Inspector Richard Harris of the Hold-Up Squad said Project Mayhem was a joint collaboration involving York, Peel and Halton Region.

Toronto Police Service Intelligence Services, Public Safety Response Units, the Emergency Task Force and Divisional Major Crime Units (MCU) were also involved in the investigation.

It is alleged that the group of suspects travelled in stolen vehicles to rob pharmacies throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

“During these incidents, several of the suspects would enter each location and commit take-over style robberies,” said Harris. “They would rush in and make demands for both narcotics and cash. In some incidents, they used a handgun and in others, they used a knife or physical violence to control any shoppers or employees inside the stores.”

After the robberies, the suspects fled to an awaiting vehicle and escaped.

Shortly after a robbery on January 24, Harris said officers observed a stolen vehicle with two men inside. They conducted a vehicle stop and took the occupants into custody.

“It is alleged that at the time of the arrests, officers recovered a knife and a quantity of stolen narcotics,” Harris said. “Members of the Hold-Up Squad, with the assistance of 23 Division Major Crime Unit, then executed two search warrants in relation to the investigation.”

The boys, ages 14 and 15, both of Toronto, were arrested and charged with numerous robbery and weapon-related offences.

On January 30, officers from 23 Division MCU observed a stolen suspect vehicle with three persons inside. The officers conducted a high-risk vehicle stop and took them into custody.

At the time of the arrests, it is alleged officers’ recovered two replica handguns, a quantity of stolen narcotics and other items of evidentiary value.

Nathan Kelly, 20, Terrance Timm, 19, and Armani Brown, 18, all of Toronto, were arrested and charged with numerous offences.

On February 9, members of the Hold-Up Squad, with assistance from the 23 Division MCU and the Division’s Auto Theft Unit, executed three search warrants in connection with the investigation.

During the searches, three persons were located and arrested.

It is further alleged that items of evidentiary value were located and seized during the search.

Three boys, ages 14, 16 and 17, all of Toronto, were arrested and charged with numerous criminal offences.

Seven pharmacy robberies took place on February 10 in Toronto and Halton.

Harris said Hold-Up Squad members began a search for the suspects and identified a vehicle of interest.

Officers from 23 Division MCU observed the stolen vehicle with two persons inside.

“It is alleged they exited the vehicle and entered a pharmacy,” said Harris. “The officers followed them in and took them into custody.”

At the time of the arrests, officers recovered a loaded handgun.

Jahshaide Clarke, 20 and a 17-year-boy, both of Mississauga, were arrested and charged with numerous offences.

Harris said Toronto Police Crime Prevention officers are routinely visiting pharmacies in the city to discuss safety tips.

“In fact, we are holding a virtual town hall with pharmacies this evening,” he noted. “We are recommending that pharmacies, if possible, invest in good surveillance cameras, panic alarms and time-delayed safes. And make sure those safes remain locked at all times.”

Police, Harris added, are aware that adults are involved in organizing these crimes and are making it very lucrative for young people to get involved.

“There is a clear demand for prescription narcotics,” he said. “Those involved in plying their trade and doing these robberies are lured by the quick money they can make by selling the drugs on the street. Intelligence suggests we are talking upwards of $60 per pill.”

Harris urged parents and caregivers to check in with their kids to ensure they don’t have large sums of money or narcotics at home.

Last year, there was a record 124 pharmacy robberies in the city. Of those arrested, 69% were young people.

So far this year, there have been 45 robberies compared to 11 this time last year. Of those arrested, 67% are young people.



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