OPP, U.S. Homeland Security seize more than 270 guns in record-breaking joint bust

Ontario Provincial Police have teamed up with U.S. Homeland Security in the biggest firearms seizure in the province's history. More than $3 million worth of illegal guns and drugs were seized during the operation.

By Michael Ranger

Provincial police say hundreds of guns have been seized and hundreds of charges laid as a result of a cross border investigation involving U.S. Homeland Security.

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) announced the results of the investigation, dubbed Project SAXOM, on Thursday morning, saying the forces seized a combined 274 illegal firearms on both sides of the border.

“Illegal firearms like these are used in violent crimes,” says OPP commissioner Thomas Carrique. “Such as robberies, carjackings, home invasions, intimidation, extortion and homicides.”

The OPP say the investigation began when their Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit (PWEU) and the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) started looking into two people who were trying to smuggle firearms into the GTA.

“Project SAXOM utilized traditional investigative techniques, including covert operations, to infiltrate a group of individuals seeking to traffic firearms in the GTA,” reads a release from OPP. “As the investigation progressed, additional suspects belonging to five distinct criminal networks were identified.”

Of the illegal firearms seized, more than 100 were taken in Ontario making it the biggest gun bust in the history of the province.

Investigators executed 17 search warrants in the GTA and Niagara Region on Feb. 13 and Feb. 14., seizing the following items:

  • 88 illegal handguns
  • 18 long guns
  • 118 prohibited devices- including a silencer, a conducted energy weapon, 20 brass knuckles, 22 prohibited knives, 74 prohibited firearm magazines
  • Approximately 1,700 rounds of ammunition

A separate investigation in the U.S., dubbed Project DUAL APPROACH, saw 168 illegal guns intercepted before they could be smuggled into Ontario.

The investigation in Ontario also saw a seizure of illicit drugs, including:

  • Approximately 23 kilograms of methamphetamine
  • More than 1 kilogram of high-potency fentanyl, equivalent to 60,000 to 70,000 street-level doses
  • 688 suspected fentanyl pills
  • 1.3 kilograms of suspected cocaine
  • 197 grams of suspected heroin
  • 877 opioid pills
  • 280 grams of suspected psilocybin
  • 432 grams of an unknown substance and 20 unknown prescription pills.

Investigators say the street value of the drugs and guns seized in Ontario is around $3.25 million. There have been 16 people arrested in Ontario in connection with the bust and over 275 charges laid.

Police say Eric Robinson, a 35-year-old from St. Catharines, remains wanted.

The Project SAXOM investigation is ongoing.

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