Taking Drugs, Guns Off Street

Integrated Gun & Gang Task Force
The deadly combination of cash, drugs and firearms that fuels violence in the city was on display at police headquarters after the conclusion of four major projects conducted over the last seven months.

Projects Aqua, Panda, Gallo and Drizzle resulted in the seizure of more than 20 firearms including rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, $3.2 million in cash, 115 kilograms of cocaine, 44 kilograms of MDMA, 3.5 kilograms of heroin, one kilogram of fentanyl, 112 kilograms of marijuana, 11 kilograms of hashish, one kilogram of opium and several motor vehicles.

Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force Inspector Peter Moreira encouraged the public to call police or Crime Stoppers anonymously (416-222-TIPS/222tips.com) to identify drug dealers and those with firearms to keep Toronto a safe city.

“The information coming forward led to these seizures and arrests,” said Moreira, noting police follow every lead. “People need to pick up the phone and call Crime Stoppers. We can’t stress that enough.”

Moreira and Drug Squad Acting Inspector Steve Watts thanked officers for their work in taking guns and drugs off the streets.

Watts had high praise for the members of his unit for the courageous and dangerous work they do.

“As you know, by design, they remain in the background, out of sight and rightfully so, and away from acknowledgement and praise,” he said. “This allows them to be highly successful in their assigned functions. These men and women perform an extremely critical function in the names of public and community safety to make our city one of the safest environments in North America.”

Two racks with handguns and rifles
Firearms seized during Projects Gallo and Panda
A man at a podium behind plastic bags with bundled packages
Drugs including heroin, cocaine and a kilogram of fentanyl were on display as Drug Squad Acting Inspector Steve Watts speaks to the media

For his part, Moreira said the seizures are typical of the work done daily by gun and gang officers.

“There are a number of sub-units within the task force that are all working on a variety of investigations,” said Moreira. “Much of this work is unreported, but I thought this was important to bring to the attention of the public, just given the number of rounds of ammunition we seized and the quantity of narcotics. All of this could not have been done without the work and assistance of members of 11, 12, 23 and 31 Divisions and I want to thank them for that work.”

In Project Aqua, it’s alleged that several individuals were engaged in a well-organized partnership trafficking large amounts of powder cocaine across the Greater Toronto Area using hidden compartments in their vehicles.

On March 30, a total of 11 Controlled Drugs and Substances Act search warrants were simultaneously executed in Toronto and York Region. Another was executed in Kitchener the next day.

A .38 calibre revolver and ammunition, 41 kilograms of powder cocaine, cocaine press plates, two motor vehicles and $324,195 in cash were seized.

A total of eight people were charged in this investigation.

Michael Spataro, 69; 33-year-old Carlos Silva, Alberto Suman and Mona Ghasemi, 28-year-old Amando Ho, 24-year-old Andre Hernandez, 34-year-old Stacie Wall and Adam Kaup, 37, are facing numerous drug and firearm offences.

The accused, with the exception of Silva, were released on bail.

Watts said this investigation started in November 2016 in the GTA.

“It was fairly high-level trafficking and transporting of powder cocaine,” he alleged. “Most of the cocaine is routed up through Mexico and this was destined within the GTA.”

Watts said powder cocaine is still the drug of choice.

“It always has been since 1991,” he said, of his experience as a drug enforcement officer.

A silver handgun
A Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum seized during Project Panda Photo: Kevin Masterman
Bundles of Canadian money
Cash seized during a Drug Squad investigation Photo: Kevin Masterman

In Project Panda, four arrests were made and nine firearms seized following an extensive investigation that led to five search warrants executed on April 4.

The firearms seized are two Russian state-of-the-art Tula ‘SK’ assault rifles with two 20-round magazines and ammunition, a .45 calibre Kimber pistol with four magazines, a .357 magnum revolver, a 9 mm Keltec pistol, a .26 calibre revolver, an Ingram 10 .45 calibre auto pistol with 23 rounds of ammunition and Glock 27 replicas with magazines.

Kristofer Zydaczewski, 23, faces 69 charges, including trafficking in cocaine, carrying a concealed weapon and possession of proceeds of crime.

He remains in custody.

Twenty-six-year-old Cody Rose, also in custody, faces 65 charges, including conspiracy to traffic weapons, unauthorized possession of a firearm and the use of a firearm.

Vanessa Burgess, 24, and 40-year-old William Pratt are on bail.

Burgess was charged with the possession of a weapon and a loaded restricted firearm, possession of a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized and careless storage of a firearm.

Pratt is facing possession of a weapon and a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized, the unauthorized possession of a firearm and careless storage of a firearm charges.

In Project Gallo, Drug Squad officers seized a large quantity of drugs, $2.9 million cash and additional property and 12 firearms with assorted ammunition after 13 search warrants executed in Toronto and the GTA simultaneously on May 25.

A gun with a man at a podium behind it
Inspector Peter Moreira speaks to the media regarding guns and drugs seized by police with a rifle in the foreground Photo: Kevin Masterman

A total 15 people face charges ranging from trafficking drugs and unauthorized firearm possession to possession of the proceeds of crime.

The accused are Tommy Phan, Daniel Dumitrescu, Melissa Beck, Van Dinh, Vu Doan, Tien Phan, Brian Dela Pena, Curtis Rayner, Keron Harris, Imran Ajani, David Brounspersouth, Mikkel Williams-Worrell, Uzair Khan, Shervin Rezaei and Keihani Masoumeh.

In Project Drizzle, members of the Service’s Integrated Gun & Gang Task Force concluded an investigation on May 23 into a man suspected of trafficking narcotics and firearms.

Raian Naidoo, 33, of Toronto, was arrested in the Legion Rd. N. and Manitoba Street area.

Police are alleging he was in possession of a loaded Glock handgun with a laser site and ammunition.

They are also alleging that a second loaded Glock handgun, hundreds of additional rounds of firearm ammunition, more than three kilograms of cocaine with a street value of nearly $200,000, a cocaine press along with paraphernalia used for cocaine trafficking and almost $5000 in proceeds of crime were found at his condo during the execution of a warrant.

The total ammunition seized is 1,126 rounds.

Naidoo, who faces 11 charges, will appear in court on June 7.

“He was on two separate firearm prohibitions for his interactions with police,” said Moreira.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7000, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416−222−TIPS (8477), online at 222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook.

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