Canada police target guns, gangs in pre-dawn raids

Wed Apr 1, 2009 2:54pm EDT
 
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TORONTO (Reuters) - At least 125 people were arrested in pre-dawn raids on Wednesday in what Canadian police described as the largest-ever such operation against guns and gang crime in Ontario.

More than 1,000 officers were involved in the raids in the Toronto area that "targeted a high level of organized crime," Toronto police said. They also seized more than 40 firearms, cocaine, marijuana and other drugs.

The investigation looked into violent crimes dating as far back as 2003, according to investigators, who said the charges include attempted murder, conspiracy and trafficking in weapons and drugs.

The arrests primarily targeted two gangs, the "MNE" and "400 Crew", who are based in southern and eastern Toronto, but involved crimes in several communities in the area, police said.

Forty-six of the people charged were members of the two gangs, but police said the arrests also included several people responsible for the distribution of guns and drugs to gangs throughout the Toronto area.

Police said more arrests were possible.

Canada has seen an increase in gang-related violence in Toronto and Vancouver in recent years. The federal government said in February it would toughen sentences for gang-related crimes.

(Writing by Allan Dowd, editing by Rob Wilson)