Significant Seizure Keeps City Safer

By Ron Fanfair

Ron Fanfair


Drug Squad

A significant quantity of drugs, four fully loaded handguns, seven vehicles and over $500,000 were seized by police during Project Cerro launched in October 2022.

On January 17, Toronto Police Drug Squad members executed search warrants at seven condominiums and made four arrests.

Paul Lelutiu, Troy Anthony Robinson, Manasinh Jittavong and Soheil Baharloo, all of Toronto, have been charged.

A total of 364 kilos of crystal meth, 20 kilos of cocaine and 3.8 kilos of fentanyl were seized. The street value of the drugs is about $32 million.

Police allege the condos were stash houses for the drugs seized

At a press conference at police headquarters on February 1, Superintendent Steve Watts said this investigation is an extension of Project Zafiro, a four-week investigation that led to the largest single-day drug seizure in the Service's history – 520 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and 151 kilograms of cocaine.

At that time, Terry Popovich and Nicole Watts of Toronto and Cindy Macias of Mississauga were charged. They will appear on court on March 14.

In total there have been seven people arrested in relation to Projects Zafiro and Cerro. The two projects have also resulted in the seizure 1,058 kilos of illegal drugs with a street value of over $87 million.

“Organized crime groups continue to seize on the opportunity to profit from the harm caused to the community and cause significant public safety and public health concerns. This is occurring in all of our neighbourhoods in Toronto, the GTA and the smaller towns and municipalities of Ontario through the organized crime Groups importation and distribution of illicit substances sometimes laced with toxic opiates.”

Watts said this distribution fuels gun violence that is ravaging communities.

“One of the most effective and proven ways to reduce the violence on our streets is to disrupt these criminal groups and associated individuals that are responsible for the importation and distribution of these controlled substances,” he pointed out.

Deputy Chief Pauline Gray said the Service will continue to dedicate the necessary resources to keep dangerous drugs and people off the streets.

“I want to personally thank all of the members, including the Drug Squad who participated in this investigation,” she added. “Investigations like these and the seizures and arrests that result from them save lives and prevent further violence in our city.”

Police Officer speaks to media
Superintendent Steve Watts addresses the media about Operation Cerro Photo: Brent Smyth

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