29 Charged: Drugs, Weapons and Assets Seized During "Project Needham"
TORONTO, Dec. 9 /CNW/ - Police have charged 29 individuals with various illegal drug production and trafficking offences following a complex joint forces investigation led by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau (OCEB).
OCEB, Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) - "Project Longarm," a joint forces drug investigation team in the Quinte area, comprised of police officers from the OPP and Belleville Police detected a group that was engaged in smuggling activity in the eastern portion of the province. As a result, Project Needham was launched in the spring of 2009 after the OPP in Western Region detected the same group.
Project Needham targeted a criminal organization that is engaged in the large-scale production, trafficking and export of MDMA (Ecstasy) and marihuana as well as the manufacture of crystal methamphetamine. The accused employed various means such as boats to cross Lake Ontario and Lake Huron, to import and export these illegal drugs.
On Wednesday, December 8, 2010 Project Needham investigators and police across the province, in Quinte West, Belleville, Prince Edward county, Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, Owen Sound, Meaford, Paisley, and Walkerton executed 34 search warrants on residences and businesses, seizing large quantities of illegal drugs and two drug labs, cash, weapons and other property obtained by crime.
Project Needham was supported by and involved members from the OPP, Belleville Police Service, Kingston RCMP Drug Section, Asian Organized Crime Task Force, Owen Sound Police Service, Toronto Police Service, Peel Regional Police, York Regional Police and Canada Border Services Agency.
Assistance was provided by U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Border Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service.
The investigation is continuing and further charges are pending. A complete list of persons charged to date and their associated charges will be available at the link provided below.
"Project Needham sends a clear and strong message to criminal organizations that police will do everything in their power to safeguard communities." - Scott TOD, Deputy Commissioner, OPP Investigations and Organized Crime Command.
"Project Needham is an excellent example of how multi-jurisdictional and intelligence-led approaches to law enforcement can combat international organized crime." - Chief Superintendent Don BELL, Commander, OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau.
"Belleville Police Service has been involved in Project Longarm for many years and I believe Project Needham is a reflection of the impact criminal enterprises have on all communities in Ontario in both rural and urban centres." - Chief Cory McMULLAN, Chief of Police, Belleville Police Service.
The entire media kit, including list of persons charged, a backgrounder and digital images is available on-line at this link: www.opp.ca/media/Needham/
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||Sgt. Kristine Rae
OPP East Region