Toronto police said they’ve taken down a large portion of a street gang with international ties after an early-morning raid Thursday that involved about 800 officers.
Police said the blitz — part of an investigation dubbed Project Patton that began nine months ago — resulted in the arrest of 75 people who had ties to the Five Point Generalz. They expect to make more arrests.
“Our investigators are confident that Project Patton has effectively disrupted and dealt a significant blow to the hierarchy and operations of the Five Point Generalz,” Chief Mark Saunders said at a news conference.
He said the gang is responsible for numerous shootings in the city, especially in the area around Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto.
“We’re talking about street gangs, street gangs that utilize firearms for business processes and have no hesitation in using firearms,” he said.
“When we talk about gunplay in the city, the street gangs play a huge — a massive — role in that type of activity.”
Saunders said police conducted more than 50 searches in Toronto, Durham, York and Peel and seized numerous guns and drugs. They will provide a more fulsome picture of the raids on Friday.
“You’ll be able to … see the type of carnage that this gang was capable of,” he said.
The chief said the Five Point Generalz have links to crimes, drugs and guns throughout the Toronto area, the rest of Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.
But he bristled when asked for more details about the gang.
“When I start talking about the history of them, that gives them credibility,” he said. “If I start bigging them up, in the terminology, then I’m doing them a favour, and I’m not going to do that.
“These are thugs that collectively use firearms to shoot other people.”
There has been a slight increase to 194 shootings in the city this year compared to 160 at this point last year, according to the force’s statistics.
But he said enforcement is only one part of reducing gun violence in Toronto, adding 90 per cent of those arrested are released. He also said the Five Point Generalz are not connected to the shooting at a Toronto playground last week that injured two young girls.
“There’s no magic pill to community safety,” he said. “Toronto police, we play one strong element … but I really do think if we’re going to get this right … there has to be a more holistic solution.”
All of those arrested were due to appear in a Toronto courthouse on Thursday.
UPDATE: Police originally said 70 people were arrested in the raids.