By Peter Edwards Staff Reporter
The provincial biker squad says it has dismantled four criminal networks in southern Ontario that were selling illegal firearms, including fully automatic machine-guns, dozens of hand grenades, grenade launchers cocaine and marijuana.
Two bikers connected to the Outlaws Motorcycle Club in London, Ont., were among the 10 suspects hit with 268 charges from the eight-month investigation called Project Weaver involving numerous police forces, police said on Thursday.
Police said they seized 31 illegal firearms, 81 hand grenades, two grenade launchers, three explosive devices, 10.85 kg of cocaine and 216 lbs of illegal cannabis, five lbs of hashish, more than $10,000 in other illegal cannabis products, 36 lbs of psilocybin, 715 grams of MDMA, $127,757 in Canadian currency, $2,106 in U.S. currency, eight vehicles and a probationary-level Outlaws Motorcycle Club vest.
“Project Weaver has revealed the availability of truly alarming offensive weapons and firearms, which compromise the safety of the citizens of Ontario,” OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said in a prepared statement.
“It is imperative that law enforcement continue the fight against illegal firearms and those who choose to engage in their trafficking,” Carrique said.
Some of the weapons came from inside Canada and others from the U.S., OPP Detective Staff Sergeant Scott Wade, Biker Enforcement Unit (BEU) Operations Manager, said.
None were from the Canadian military, Wade said, adding that “firearms tracing is still underway.”
Wade said the probe highlighted that criminal groups are still involved in the cannabis trade, even though it has been legalized. Criminals can reap significant profits by ignoring Health Canada quality guidelines, Wade said.
“Illegal cannabis is a lucrative commodity,” Wade said.
The Outlaws charged were based in London, Ont. Others charged were from independent criminal organizations based in London, Brantford and the Hamilton area, police said.
The four criminal networks are unrelated, although they engage in the same crimes, police said.
“We have dismantled these organized crime groups,” Wade said.
Police said it was a complex operation, involving numerous police forces, as well as investigators from the Canadian military.
“We are a team, collectively working towards the same outcome,” OPP Deputy Commissioner Chuck Cox, Provincial Commander, Investigations and Organized Crime, said at the press conference.
Sean Sutherland, 32, of Ancaster was charged with 126 offences, including possession of explosives and trafficking, while Brandon Spalding, 31, of Brantford was hit with 50 charges, including possession of explosives and weapons trafficking.
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