Toronto police arrested 73 gang members of the “Chester Le gang” on 599 charges in an eight-month-long investigation called “Project Kraken”.
In total $400,000 in drugs and 23 illegally obtained firearms were seized. Among the drugs taken off the streets were “over 1050 grams of cocaine, over 1100 grams of fentanyl, over 1100 grams of Clonazepam, over 840 grams of Percocet and other drugs seized”, according to an official Toronto Police Service news release.
“Investigators were able to substantiate and now allege that the Chester Le gang (was) involved in extensive gun and drug activity. Investigators were also able to allege that numerous members of this gang committed brazen armed robberies while having a callous disregard for public safety,” said Deputy Chief James Ramer.
The criminals were mainly young men, several middle aged individuals and one young offender. The following men had an extensive number of charges:
- Omer Gharibzada: 19 charges
- Mohamed Aden: 25 charges
- Fayaz Alakoozi: 22 charges
- Shadab Nabizada: 24 charges
- Kennedy Richards-Coleman: 29 charges
The street gang which was called a “coordinated criminal organization” is believed to have ties to traditional organized crime. Among the charges are numerous gun and drug trafficking crimes, as well as some robbery charges.
The guns were believed to be smuggled for the purpose of an ongoing turf war and were being carried by tow truck operators.
Toronto has recently seen an alarming rise in gang related gun violence. In 2018, the city hit a record of 424 shootings. In response to the rise of gun violence, Toronto Mayor John Tory has advocated for a handgun ban on legal gun owners and the Toronto Police Service have implemented a gun buyback program.
“Some of the guns before you were seized from tow truck operators who had armed themselves and were prepared to shoot other tow truck operators over an ongoing battle over territory,” said Ramer.
While the gang has its roots in Toronto, its activities are believed to reach throughout the GTA and the rest of Canada.
Individuals involved in the arrest were residents of a variety of areas including Toronto, Ajax, Waterloo, Sudbury, and Ottawa.